stalactite [ st uh- lak-tahyt, stal- uh k-tahyt ] SHOW IPA / stəˈlæk taɪt, ˈstæl əkˌtaɪt / PHONETIC RESPELLING EXAMPLES | WORD ORIGIN noun 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. Origin of stalactite 1670–80;
New Latin stalactites
) dripping (
to drip +
verbid suffix) +
New Latin -ites -ite 1 Related forms stal·ac·tit·ic , [stal- uh k- tit-ik] /ˌstæl əkˈtɪt ɪk/ stal·ac·tit·i·cal, adjective stal·ac·tit·i·cal·ly, adverb
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Examples from the Web for stalactites British Dictionary definitions for stalactites noun a cylindrical mass of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave: formed by precipitation from continually dripping water Compare stalagmite Derived Forms stalactiform ( stəˈlæktɪˌfɔːm), adjective stalactitic ( ˌstæləkˈtɪtɪk) or stalactitical, adjective Word Origin for stalactite
C17: from New Latin
stalactites, from Greek stalaktos dripping, from stalassein to drip
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for stalactites n.
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").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Science definitions for stalactites 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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Culture definitions for stalactites
Rock structures formed on the ceilings of caves as water drips down, leaving behind
minerals before it falls. ( Compare stalagmites.) Note
Stalactites grow very slowly.
One easy way to distinguish stalactites from stalagmites is to recall that stalactites “hold
tight” to the ceiling of a cave. Stalagmites “ might reach the ceiling” of the cave and form a column.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.