old salt

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old salt (plural old salts)

  1. (idiomatic) A seasoned sailor, especially one who is hardy and forthright in manner.
    • 1863, James Fenimore Cooper, chapter 24, in Miles Wallingford[1]:
      [A]n old salt don't like to keep under hatches, while powder is burning on deck.
    • 1887, Harriet W. Daly, Digging, Squatting, and Pioneering Life in the Northern Territory of South Australia, page 289:
      None of the spears, however, had touched any vital part, and being a tough old salt he was able to pull through.
    • 1910, Lucy Maud Montgomery, chapter 2, in Kilmeny of the Orchard:
      "[Y]ou'll always find an old salt at the harbour ready and willing to take you out cod-fishing or lobstering."
    • 1931 November 23, “Heroes: Almost Ahab”, in Time:
      Peerless hero of U. S. mariners is Captain Ahab, the vindictive old salt who sailed the southern oceans screaming for more canvas, cursing tired crews, laughing wildly into the gale.
    • 2004, Jane Marie Malcolm, The Goodbye Lie, →ISBN, page 61:
      The old salt probably had more knowledge than anyone around when it came to the ports on the Atlantic coast, but he sensed the captain needed to talk so he patiently indulged him.