American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. An icicle-shaped mineral deposit, usually calcite or aragonite, hanging from the roof of a cavern, formed from the dripping of mineral-rich water.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A deposit of carbonate of lime, usually resembling in form a huge icicle, which hangs from the roof of a cave or subterranean rock-opening, where it has been slowly formed by deposition from calcareous water trickling downward through cracks or openings in the rocks above. Water containing carbonic acid in solution, which it has gained in filtering through the overlying soil, has the power of dissolving carbonate of lime, which it deposits again upon evaporation; stalactites are hence common in regions of limestone rocks. They are sometimes white, and nearly transparent, showing the broad cleavage-surfaces of the calcite, as those of the cave near Matanzas in Cuba; but commonly they have a granular structure with concentric bands of pale-yellow to brown colors. In some caverns the stalactites are very numerous and large, and of great beauty in their endless variety of form, especially in connection with the stalagmites, the corresponding depositions accumulated beneath the stalactites upon the floor of the caverns. The caves of Adelsberg in Carniola and of Luray in Virginia are among the most celebrated for the beauty of their stalactites.
- n. A similar form of some other mineral species, such as are occasionally observed, for example, of chalcedony, limonite, etc., but only sparingly and on a small scale.
- n. A like form of lava sometimes observed in connection with volcanic outflows. Lava stalactites have been noted hanging from the roofs of lava caverns in the crater of Kilauea in Hawaii; and slender forms of a nearly uniform diameter of one fourth of an inch, and from a few inches to 20 or 30 inches in length, ornament the roofs of caverns in the lava stream which descended from Mauna Loa in the same island in 1881. Stalagmites of lava rise from the lava floor beneath.
- n. In decorative architecture of certain schools, a pendent ornament with sharp edges and generally one of many in a group.
- n. geology A mineral deposit of calcium carbonate, in shapes similar to icicles, that hangs from the roof of a cave.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A pendent cone or cylinder of calcium carbonate resembling an icicle in form and mode of attachment. Stalactites are found depending from the roof or sides of caverns, and are produced by deposition from waters which have percolated through, and partially dissolved, the overlying limestone rocks.
- n. In an extended sense, any mineral or rock of similar form and origin.
- n. a cylinder of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave
- From Ancient Greek σταλακτός (stalaktos, "dripping"). (Wiktionary)
- New Latin stalactītēs, from Greek stalaktos, dripping, from stalassein, stalak-, to drip. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“A stalactite is a mineral deposit that is usually - though not exclusively - found in limestone caves.”
“There are, incidentally, types of stalactites that grow more quickly; in fact, icicles are a kind of stalactite, and there are others that rapidly grow from gypsum, but no one has ever found or fast growing calcite stalactite, nor has anyone ever demonstrated a way to grow one quickly, because the process seems to be intrinsically slow.”
“You find in a cave, say a stalactite which is dripping water into a pool at a very regular rate, gradually filling it up.”
“Basle, and the great fissure of Amarnath in Kashmir, with its icy stalactite which is the special object of worship.”
“They were all tapestried, as it were, with a kind of stalactite, which covered the funnel to the top, with its knobs and chintz-like variation of colors.”
“They are kissing beneath an elegant stalactite swirling over them like filigree.”
“A film pairs the great stalactite of Doolin Cave in north Clare with a choirboy giving a brief performance to the millennia-old giant drip of rock.”
“Writers are stalactite makers, dripping away in the limestone caverns of the mind.”
“No sunlight had reached this place in thousands of years, but he could see each stalactite clearly, each boulder and pebble and drop of water.”
“A stalactite of oozing yellow hung from the concrete ceiling and made a glossy puddle on the floor.”
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