Green’s Dictionary of Slang

salty adj.

also saltyback
[? US navy jargon salty, tough, aggressive; Dillard suggests link to UK dial. salty, ‘of a bitch, maris appetens [desirous of a male]’ (EDD)]

1. (US) irritated, annoyed, feeling sour, supercilious.

[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 132: He lay and thought about research with salty self-defensive scorn.
[US] ‘Hectic Harlem’ in N.Y. Amsterdam News 8 Feb, sect. 2: SALTY. – Sarcastic, supercilious, highbrow, as ‘Don’t jump salty.’.
[US]Cab Calloway Hi De Ho 16: salty: angry, ill-tempered.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 251: All the good I done was to get Frankie salty back at me.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 202: It made the prison officers pretty salty, on account of they had built up the story about the rip tides so much.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 4: When his hair was once more in place it was mussed again and he got salty as hell.
[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 38: I’m gon’ do better, Daddy [...] and then you won’t have no reason to be salty at me.
[US]J.L. Gwaltney Drylongso 62: His so-called brother in Christ was stone salty when I laid that on him.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
[US]P. Beatty Tuff 37: You ain’t got nothing to be salty about — Ms. Nomura like my auntie.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. 2011.
usatoday.com 3 Apr. [Internet] [headline] Kristaps Porzingis was so salty after losing to a teammate in FIFA.

2. (US, also salty-ass) tough, aggressive, used of a veteran of a particular environment, e.g. a prison.

[US]B. Cormack Racket Act I: Well, we’re still salty here.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 90: I remember that the nurses at the Sixth General Hospital were plumper and saltier than most ANC’s.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 291: He was trying out his Marine lingo, to show us how salty he was.
[US]T. Southern ‘Razor Fight’ in Southern (1973) 27: So he say, salty-like, he say: ‘What’s the matter with you, boy’.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 22: I always had my own table with my own crew [...] salty motherfuckers all.
[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 17: Saltiest suckers in the world, those stewards could teach a Paris waiter how to fuck with people. [Ibid.] 28: He is a civilized, macho, salty-ass Marine. John Wayne couldn’t have played it better.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 7: The recruits were also getting pretty ‘salty’.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 156: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Celly. Salty. Polly. Gully.

3. (US teen) a general pej., unpleasant, uncouth, crude; of language, obscene.

[US]M. Levin Reporter 65: His eyes shone with a salty earnestness whenever he got on any such subject [i.e. sex].
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 29 Mar. [synd. col.] An almost street brawl didn’t come off [...] Saturdawn when Playwright Charles McArthur and Ted Husing swapped some salty sass.
[US]L.A. Times 23 Mar. B14: Enlisted slang is rather salty.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Peacock Valhalla 345: You’re pretty goddam salty, ain’t you?
[US]E. Shepard Doom Pussy 58: Salty language has been practiced since the beginning of warfare.
[US]J. Webb Fields of Fire (1980) 228: They’re pretty damn good. A little salty, maybe.
[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 24: Salty: Negative attitude.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 36: Pansy’d done some salty entertaining in her day.

4. of a garment, well-worn, ‘lived-in’.

[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 188: [He] slips on a dark T-shirt and a pair of cutoff dungarees (scrubbed to death and plenty salty-looking).
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Salty (adj.) [...] 2. Messed up; not right.

In compounds