early 13c., "to deliver (one's soul) from sin and its consequences;" mid-13c., "to deliver or rescue from peril,"
from O.Fr. sauver, from L.L. salvare "make safe, secure,"
from L. salvus "safe" (see safe (adj.)).
Meaning "store up, to keep instead of spending" is attested from mid-14c.
Save face (1898) first was used among the British community in China and is said to be from Chinese; it has not been found in Chinese, but tiu lien "to lose face" does occur. To not (do something) to save one's life is recorded from 1848.