Definition for NI'TER, or NI'TRE

NI'TER, or NI'TRE, n. [Fr. nitre; Sp. and It. nitro; L. nitrum; Gr. νιτρον; Heb. and Syr. נתר; Ar. نِطْرُونَ nitrona. In Hebrew, the verb under which this word appears signifies to spring, leap, shake, and to strip or loose; in Ch. to strip or to fall off; in Syriac, the same; in Sam. to keep, to watch or guard; in Ar. the same; in Eth. to shine.]

A salt, called also salt-peter, [stone-salt,] and in the modern nomenclature of chimistry, nitrate of potassa. It exists in large quantities in the earth, and is continually formed in inhabited places, on walls sheltered from rain, and in all situations where animal matters are decomposed, under stables and barns, &c. It is of great use in the arts; is the principal ingredient in gunpowder, and is useful in medicines, in preserving meat, butter, &c. It is a white crystaline salt, and has an acrid, bitterish taste. Hooper. Fourcroy.

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