I often watch Hearthstone streams on Twitch, and many streamers will use the term "salty" to describe their emotions they feel when something unlucky happens to them. It seems to be synonymous with the word "bitter." Is this the origin of the term? If so, it seems a bit confusing, as I wouldn't describe the taste of salt as bitter. If not, am I missing something obvious?

Edit: More to the point, what's caused the resurgence of this term in recent years?

  • 1
    – Robusto
    May 15, 2015 at 15:22
  • That sort of answers my question, but why is it used primarily in Hearthstone/gaming streams and not as often in other contexts? What caused the resurgence of this term? Because I haven't heard it used as slang except for in the past year or so.
    – Kevin
    May 15, 2015 at 15:27
  • The historical etymology is useful, but still leaves the question of why this term has reemerged in a few areas of slang (hip-hop, video gaming, general youth usage) within the last five to ten years. I think it started with increasing use in hip-hop in the '00s, and spread from there, but this is difficult to corroborate.
    – recognizer
    May 15, 2015 at 15:28
  • Urbandictionary has a number of posts starting in the late '00s: urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=salty and RapGenius shows increasing usage through the last ten years: genius.com/rapstats?q=salty but both of these sources are necessarily biased because their bases of samples skew toward the recent. So noting this doesn't indicate that use of the term drastically increased starting in the mid-00s - it may have been holding steady earlier, and uses were unrecorded.
    – recognizer
    May 15, 2015 at 15:31
  • Here is some nice discussion too: testyourmight.com/threads/origin-of-salty.8001 and here answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080314060317AAn2Skh
    – user73373
    May 15, 2015 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


From Etymonline:

salty (adj.)
U.S. slang sense of "angry, irritated" is first attested 1938 (probably from similar use with regard to sailors, "tough, aggressive," attested by 1920), especially in phrase jump salty "to unexpectedly become enraged." Related: Saltily.


In naval terms, the salty guys were the ones who have been on ship for awhile... sailors/marines with time under their belt. the ocean salt would destroy their boots.... New joins are called boots .... because they have fresh new boots... simple I know.

being salty is considered a good thing.

ie, look at that salty Lcpl with that bigass stack!

  • 2
    This question is actually about a different, civilian definition of the term, which carries the negative connotation of being overly irritable or holding a grudge. Unfortunately, if it's related to the naval meaning, it's based on a civilian impression of sailors' temper...
    – recognizer
    May 15, 2015 at 18:22

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