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!
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: 1942
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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