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[kuh-lee-chee] /kəˈli tʃi/
noun, Geology.
a surface deposit consisting of sand or clay impregnated with crystalline salts such as sodium nitrate or sodium chloride.
a zone of calcium carbonate or other carbonates in soils of semiarid regions.
Compare duricrust, hardpan.
Origin of caliche
1855-60; < Spanish: flake of lime, equivalent to cal lime (< Latin calc-; see chalk) + -iche noun suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for caliche
Historical Examples
  • The man whirled and started on a staggering run along the rim of the caliche he had been travelling.

    Dust of the Desert Robert Welles Ritchie
  • Should he bear to right or left in circling the edge of the caliche on his hunt for the footprints?

    Dust of the Desert Robert Welles Ritchie
  • Hence, roads are referred to as clay, gumbo, sandy or caliche roads as local custom may elect.

  • And if the road passed over the caliche flat thered be wheel marks; that was sure.

    Dust of the Desert Robert Welles Ritchie
  • caliche is a reddish-brown to white layer found in many desert soils.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • The caliche varies in thickness from a few inches to 10 or 12 feet, and rests on a soft stratum of earth called cova.

  • The caliche, or raw nitrate of soda, is not equally distributed over the pampas.

  • The caliche is then separated by means of picks from the overlying costra and carried to the refinery.

  • All this is the result of digging for caliche, and blasting it out of the sandy bed in which it has lain God only knows how long.

    Peru in the Guano Age Alexander James Duffield
  • Undoubtedly this is what will ultimately take place, when the richer quality of the caliche has been exhausted.

British Dictionary definitions for caliche


Also called calcrete. a bed of sand or clay in arid regions cemented by calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, and other soluble minerals
a surface layer of soil encrusted with calcium carbonate, occurring in arid regions Also called duricrust
Word Origin
C20: from American Spanish, from Latin calx lime
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caliche

sodium nitrate deposits in Chile and Peru, 1858, from American Spanish, from Spanish caliche "pebble in a brick," from Latin calx "pebble" (see chalk (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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caliche in Science
See hardpan.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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