Definition of spelunker
: one who makes a hobby of exploring and studying caves
spelunker was our Word of the Day on 04/30/2010. Hear the podcast!
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Recent Examples of spelunker from the Web
For that reason, Holbrook said spelunkers are encouraged to practice clean caving, disinfecting their boots, clothing and other gear after exiting a cave.
These literal and figurative buggers put a dent in how much stress your returning spelunkers regain in-town each week.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spelunker'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Spelunker sounds like the noise a pebble makes when you drop it down a deep hole and into dark, hidden water far below. But there's nothing dark or obscure about the etymology of the term. We borrowed "spelunker" from Latin spelunca, which in turn derives from Greek spelynx. When you get to the bottom of things, you find that both the Latin and Greek words mean "cave." Although "spelunker" might sound neat, be careful: some cave-exploring enthusiasts prefer the term "caver."
Origin and Etymology of spelunker
Latin spelunca cave, from Greek spēlynx; akin to Greek spēlaion cave
First Known Use: 1942See Words from the same year
SPELUNKER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of spelunker for English Language Learners
: a person who explores and studies caves as a hobby
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