I've used the word 'salve' in one writing I've made. One of the readers objects that the word 'salve' is 'a substance we use for healing a wound' thus it can't be used here. My sentence was:

Supplication is a salve for every sore.

Although when I used it, the thing I had in my mind was that here the word 'salve' is in a 'figurative' sense. I need to have some inputs from the contributors on this with some examples.

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    Salve can be used figuratively, e.g "when someone is upset or sad, kind words can be a salve for their feelings". Commented May 29, 2019 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


From Merriam-Webster's definition of salve:

2 : a remedial or soothing influence or agency
// a salve to their hurt feelings

And from Oxford Dictionaries:

1.1 Something that is soothing or consoling for wounded feelings or an uneasy conscience.
‘the idea provided him with a salve for his guilt’

Using it in this second sense of the word is perfectly fine. Point the person who objects to a dictionary.


I don't see any problem. You have formed an expression which is grammatical, whose meaning is clear, and which I understood.

The word "salve" is no longer in common usage, at least in American English, and less-educated speakers may not recognize it; but it seems to me to be used correctly. The word "supplication" is not in common usage outside religious contexts. Neither of these facts mean your expression is wrong; I only point them out so you can judge whether it is appropriate for your context and your audience.

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