Salty – What does “Salty” mean in British slang?

So you have planned three holidays, booked time off work and are totally ready to lay on a beach sipping pina coladas under the sun. This I am sure were many of your summer plans, unfortunately they have been put on hold due to the recent pandemic.

How do you feel now? Angry? Disappointed? Salty? Yes Salty!

Let me explain myself, in formal english Salty S-A-L-T-Y is an adjective meaning tasting or containing salt, Of course, you may have assumed that it was in relation to food. For example:

  • “damn you over salted this chicken.”
  • “these chips are really too salty”

In slang we can also say a person is salty. No I do not mean one should go around licking their friends and commenting on their taste.

In slang salty is an adjective of emotion. Feeling salty is akin to feeling upset or angry. It can be over something minor, like getting teased or sometimes over something larger like your holiday plans being cancelled.

So where does it come from and why do we use it?
In fact the term salty comes from US slang and was first attested in 1938. It has the same meaning as today, to be angry and irritated.

Surprisingly it stemmed from referring to sailors, who were tough and aggressive. In naval terms, the salty guys were the ones who have been on ship for a long time such as sailors and marines. During this time at sea, the ocean waves would knock them around, they would work very hard and while at the top of the ship, the salty sea and air would permeate their clothes and skin, they would feel rough and exhausted and salty.

Now many of us are not sailors battling against the harsh sea, yet we still use salty to describe our emotions. As such “Man, I can’t believe James didn’t want to date you. Are you sad or just salty?” or “Why are you so damn salty today?”

That’s the end of our episode of the day so remember to tune in for our next episode so see what new slang we have in store for you! So what makes you salty? Let us know! You can find us on our website and from there you can see our transcript and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and many more apps.
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