• synonyms


[stuh-lak-tahyt, stal-uh k-tahyt]
  1. a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, shaped like an icicle, hanging from the roof of a cave or the like, and formed by the dripping of percolating calcareous water.
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Origin of stalactite

1670–80; < New Latin stalactites < Greek stalakt(ós) dripping (stalag-, stem of stalássein to drip + -tos verbid suffix) + New Latin -ites -ite1
Related formsstal·ac·tit·ic [stal-uh k-tit-ik] /ˌstæl əkˈtɪt ɪk/, stal·ac·tit·i·cal, adjectivestal·ac·tit·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedstalactite stalagmite
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stalactite

Historical Examples

  • It will be seen that, at one place, the stalactite has united with the stalagmite below.

    The Prehistoric World

    E. A. Allen

  • I will also exchange minerals for stalagmites, and a trilobite for a stalactite.

  • This is evident from the stalactite formation which remains on it.

  • Other pellets are attached, until this pillar, like a stalactite in a cave, is completed.

    The Cricket's Friends

    Virginia W. Johnson

  • The other must be the tube that leads to the stalactite cave, said Mrs. Vernon.

    Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy

British Dictionary definitions for stalactite


  1. a cylindrical mass of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave: formed by precipitation from continually dripping waterCompare stalagmite
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Derived Formsstalactiform (stəˈlæktɪˌfɔːm), adjectivestalactitic (ˌstæləkˈtɪtɪk) or stalactitical, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from New Latin stalactites, from Greek stalaktos dripping, from stalassein to drip
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 stalactite


1670s, Englished from Modern Latin stalactites (used 1654 by Olaus Wormius), from Greek stalaktos "dripping," from stalassein "to trickle," from PIE root *stag- "to seep, drip, drop" (cf. German stallen, Lithuanian telziu "to urinate").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stalactite in Science


  1. A cylindrical or conical mineral deposit projecting downward from the roof of a cave or cavern, formed by the dripping of water saturated with minerals. Stalactites form gradually as the minerals precipitate out of the saturated water. They usually consist of calcite but can also consist of other minerals. Compare stalagmite.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.