Definition of saltation in English:



mass noun
  • 1Biology
    Abrupt evolutionary change; sudden large-scale mutation.

    ‘new genetic characters appear suddenly by saltation’
    count noun ‘a new concept of evolution by saltations or sudden transitions’
    • ‘He gave examples of new races formed in sudden jumps or saltations to illustrate that ‘the evolution of organisms may… be a much more rapid process than Darwin believes.’’
    • ‘In a phylogenetic dendrogram, branches and twigs here and there show saltations into a new grade.’
    • ‘But accepting the data at face value raises the interesting possibility that hierarchy may be quite labile, that hierarchical saltations may be relatively easy in evolution.’
    • ‘In particular, where Darwin had seen evolution and a slow, gradual, continuous process, Huxley thought that an evolving lineage might make rapid jumps, or saltations.’
    • ‘Lyons next examines Huxley's conversion from saltation to gradualism, predicated to a great degree on his own studies of Archaeopteryx and relationships among reptiles, dinosaurs, and birds.’
  • 2Geology
    The transport of hard particles over an uneven surface in a turbulent flow of air or water.

    ‘the distance travelled by each grain during saltation’
    • ‘Eroded sediment can be transported by creep, saltation, or suspension, and where much fine soil or sediment is present, dust clouds can result.’
    • ‘Although the dunes near Parker seem to be an extension of this same sandflow path, Muhs says that saltation couldn't carry grains of sand across the Colorado River.’
    • ‘This process, in which sand grains bounce downwind, is called saltation.’
    • ‘Atreya then went on to show that substantially greater quantities of H2O2 can be produced by triboelectric fields in dust devils and dust storms and through saltation.’
  • 3archaic The action of leaping or dancing.

    ‘In addition to the dorso-ventral flexion seen during saltation, the sacroiliac joint often allows varying degrees of lateral movement.’
    ‘These actions are important in the effective use of the hindlimbs during terrestrial saltation and swimming.’
    leap, jump, bound, vault, hop


Early 17th century (in saltation (sense 3)): from Latin saltatio(n-), from saltare ‘to dance’, frequentative of salire ‘to leap’.



/salˈteɪʃ(ə)n/ /sɔːlˈteɪʃ(ə)n/ /sɒlˈteɪʃ(ə)n/