verb (used without object)

to explore caves, especially as a hobby.

Nearby words

  1. spelling reform,
  2. spellman,
  3. spellman, francis joseph,
  4. spelt,
  5. spelter,
  6. spelunker,
  7. spelunking,
  8. spemann,
  9. spemann, hans,
  10. spence

Origin of spelunk

back formation from spelunker, spelunking




a person who explores caves, especially as a hobby.

Origin of spelunker

1940–45; < Latin spēlunc(a) cave (≪ Greek spêlynx, stem spēlyng-, akin to spḗlaion; cf. spelaean) + -er1

Related formsspe·lunk·ing, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for spelunking



a person whose hobby is the exploration and study of caves
Derived Formsspelunking, noun

Word Origin for spelunker

C20: from Latin spēlunca, from Greek spēlunx a cave

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

Word Origin and History for spelunking
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper