Slang Term “Salty” - Etymology & Meaning (Helpful Examples) (2024)

The word “Salty” is used as slang by a lot of people, particularly in online communities. But what does this slang term actually mean? And when did it get its start in being used as a slang term as opposed to a simple adjective? This article will answer those questions.

What Is The Etymology Of The Slang Term “Salty”?

The use of “Salty” as a slang term that means “Bitter” can be traced all the way back to 1938, where its meaning was someone being “bitter or angry”. Though there’s no definitive etymology or origin that can be pointed towards, it’s likely that the term originated with sailors.

Slang Term “Salty” - Etymology & Meaning (Helpful Examples) (1)

You might be wondering “where does the term “salty” come from?”. Here’s the answer: In the 1920s, “Salty” was used to describe sailors who were aggressive or tough.

It’s likely that in the next couple of decades, the meaning of “Salty” morphed to mean “Bitter and angry”.

The term has resurfaced in the last few decades, with widespread use seen in the hip hop and video game communities, though there’s no specific origin we can point towards to explain this resurgence.

There is another alternative slang meaning for “Salty” (beyond its base meaning of “something that is full of salt, that is), used mainly in naval environments.

This meaning is a positive one, as someone being “Salty” means that they have been on a ship for a long time, and that their boots have been destroyed by the salt contained in the ocean.

This “Salty” is a way of saying that someone is experienced, and stands in strong contrast to the modern, casual insulting meaning of “Salty”.

What Does The Slang Term “Salty” Mean?

“Salty” as a slang term in its modern use means that the person is angry, bitter, or upset, most likely about losing some form of competition, though it can also be used in other situations. Someone will probably not self-describe as “Salty”, but be described as such.

Nowadays you might find someone using “Salty” if they’re a competitive video game player describing their opponent after a match, or if they’re a rapper criticizing people in their music.

While “Salty” could probably be used to describe anyone who’s angry or upset, the specific meaning that distinguishes it from similar words like “Angry” or “Bitter” is the fact that it’s used after a competition of some sorts.

Therefore, “Salty” is generally a word used to describe someone who is unfairly upset that they lost some kind of competition.

Another meaning that “Salty” can hold, as a slang term, is regional, originating from Philadelphia in the United States. In Philadelphia, “Salty” is also used in an insulting way, though its meaning is slightly different.

In Philadelphia, “Salty” means that someone feels or looks foolish, because of something that was done to them or that they did. If someone is “Salty” in Philadelphia, it means that they’ve done something foolish.

Examples Of How To Use The Slang Term “Salty” In A Sentence

Here are some example sentences that showcase the way that you should use the slang term “Salty” in a sentence:

  1. Even though I won our match he’s still criticizing me on social media, he’s so salty.
  2. I don’t think you should be salty about this outcome, you lost fair and square.
  3. It’s been at least three years, maybe four, but she’s still salty about how our relationship ended.
  4. I am making a personal effort, and even if I lose this competition, I won’t be salty.
  5. I think it’s valuable to try and not be salty even in situations where they won and we lost.
  6. That guy is still salty, I saw him yesterday and he wouldn’t even look me in the eyes.
  7. I don’t like playing against you because when I win you’re salty for a full week.
  8. He should make an effort to be less salty because you haven’t done anything to him.
  9. I don’t care if she’s salty, it’s not my fault that I’m more successful than her.
  10. I used to get really salty in these situations but I have grown as a person.

Is “Salty” An Insult?

The core of the matter is that yes, “Salty” can be considered to be an insult. “Salty” is a word that describes someone being angry and upset. The word is usually used to describe other people in a pejorative manner.

Because people don’t generally self-describe as salty, and it’s actually mostly used to describe other people, we can discern that it’s an insult.

Furthermore, “salty” is specifically a description of someone who’s angry or bitter that they lost at some form of competition, and would usually be used by the person who won said competition.

Taking all of this into account, we can conclude that “Salty” is, in fact, an insult. If everyone uses it as an insult, then that makes it an insult.

Synonyms For The Slang Term “Salty”

Here are a few synonyms for “Salty” that you can use in place of the slang term:

  • Bitter
  • Angry
  • Upset
  • Resentful
  • Disgruntled

Slang Term “Salty” - Etymology & Meaning (Helpful Examples) (2)

Martin Lassen

Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.

Related posts:

  1. 10 Words for Being Angry and Sad at the Same Time
  2. 10 Words For Someone Who Holds A Grudge (Meaning Explained)
  3. Mad vs. Upset – What’s the Difference?
  4. 10 Best Words for “Wishing Bad on Someone”
Slang Term “Salty” - Etymology & Meaning (Helpful Examples) (2024)


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