from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An icicle-shaped mineral deposit, usually calcite or aragonite, hanging from the roof of a cavern, formed from the dripping of mineral-rich water.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In decorative architecture of certain schools, a pendent ornament with sharp edges and generally one of many in a group.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A like form of lava sometimes observed in connection with volcanic outflows.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun In an extended sense, any mineral or rock of similar form and origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun geology A mineral deposit of calcium carbonate, in shapes similar to icicles, that hangs from the roof of a cave.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a cylinder of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin stalactītēs, from Greek stalaktos, dripping, from stalassein, stalak-, to drip.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek σταλακτός (stalaktos, "dripping").



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  • "The term "stalactite" was coined in the 17th century by the Danish Physician Ole Worm, who coined the Latin word from the Greek word σταλακτός (stalaktos, "dripping") and the Greek suffix -ίτης (-ites, connected with or belonging to)."

    -- From Wikipedia's "Stalactite" entry (, which sends us off to the wonderful Online Etymology Dictionary, where (at we find this: ""hanging formation of carbonite of lime from the roof of a cave," 1670s, Englished from Modern Latin stalactites (used 1654 by Olaus Wormius), from Greek stalaktos "dripping, oozing out in drops," from stalassein "to trickle," from PIE root *stag- "to seep, drip, drop" (source also of German stallen, Lithuanian telžiu, telžti "to urinate") + noun suffix -ite (1). Related: Stalactic; stalactitic."

    May 31, 2019