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That’s the Word for It: Salvo


The word salvo has more military connotations but you can also use the word figuratively as in the case of opening salvo, which refers to the first in a series of questions or statements used to try to win an argument.

Some instances of this word in literature:

“Agnes shut her eyes, clenched her fists, opened her mouth and screamed.

It started low. Plaster dust drifted down from the ceiling. The prisms on the chandelier chimed gently as they shook.
It rose, passing quickly through the mysterious pitch at fourteen cycles per second where the human spirit begins to feel distinctly uncomfortable about the universe and the place in it of the bowels. Small items around the Opera House vibrated off shelves and smashed on the floor.

The note climbed, rang like a bell, climbed again. In the Pit, all the violin strings snapped, one by one.
As the tone rose, the crystal prisms shook in the chandelier. In the bar, champagne corks fired a salvo. Ice jingled and shattered in its bucket. A line of wine-glasses joined in the chorus, blurred around the rims, and then exploded like hazardous thistledown with attitude.

There were harmonics and echoes that caused strange effects. In the dressing-rooms the No. 3 greasepaint melted. Mirrors cracked, filling the ballet school with a million fractured images.

Dust rose, insects fell. In the stones of the Opera House tiny particles of quartz danced briefly…

Then there was silence, broken by the occasional thud and tinkle.

Nanny grinned.

‘Ah,’ she said, ‘now the opera’s over.”

― Terry Pratchett, Maskerade

“It has been calculated that what with salvos, royal and military politeness, courteous exchanges of uproar, signals of etiquette, formalities of roadsteads and citadels, sunrises and sunsets, saluted every day by all fortresses and all ships of war, openings and closings of ports, etc., the civilized world, discharged all over the earth, in the course of four and twenty hours, one hundred and fifty thousand useless shots. At six francs a shot, that comes to nine hundred thousand francs a day, three hundred millions a year, which vanish in smoke. This is a mere details. All this time the poor were dying of hunger.”

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

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