The first trace of the heart in an embryo, appearing as a pulsating point. Compare "salient point". Now chiefly historical.
2 figurative A starting point; a source or origin of life or activity. In later use also: the heart of a matter, the central or most important point.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in William Harvey (1578–1657), physician and discoverer of the circulation of the blood. From post-classical Latin punctum saliens from classical Latin punctum + saliēns, present participle of salīre to leap.