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Saltwater vs. salt water

The one-word saltwater is an adjective that describes salty bodies of water, the water of such bodies, and the life that lives in such bodies. The two-word salt water is correct in all other uses. It’s a noun phrase, with the adjective salt modifying the noun water. Similar distinctions apply to freshwater and fresh water.

Some publishers use the hyphenated phrasal adjective salt-water instead of saltwater, but the one-word form has been around a long time and is listed in most new dictionaries.

Examples

Saltwater

The department says the saltwater solution is potentially better because it can be applied up to three days before a storm. [Boston Globe]

This program recognizes anglers for catching freshwater and saltwater fish of qualifying size. [Stamford Advocate]

After breakfast, I totter down to Chuan Spa’s 12-metre saltwater pool for a few laps. [Sydney Morning Herald]


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Salt water

Ms Savage has a desalinator on her boat to make salt water drinkable. [BBC News]

More than 40% of the farmland of the costal city of Sendai, for instance, has been soaked with salt water, sludge, cars and garbage. [Wall Street Journal]

We raised our heads out of the sea and removed our masks, salt water streaming down our faces. [The Province]

See also

Freshwater

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