sta·​lac·​tite | \ stə-ˈlak-ˌtīt also ˈsta-lək- How to pronounce stalactite (audio) \

Definition of stalactite

: a deposit of calcium carbonate (such as calcite) resembling an icicle hanging from the roof or sides of a cave

Illustration of stalactite

Illustration of stalactite

stalactite and stalagmite

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from stalactite

stalactitic \ ˌsta-​(ˌ)lak-​ˈti-​tik How to pronounce stalactitic (audio) , stə-​ˌlak-​ \ adjective

Examples of stalactite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But while there has been a lot of research focused on how stalactites form, relatively little has been done on stalagmites. Katherine Kornei, New York Times, "How Stalagmites Get Their Shapes," 27 Nov. 2019 Bessette described widespread calcification, going so far as to characterize conditions that included stalactites. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Just three years after dedicating its new downtown Hartford plaza, Travelers is ripping up the pavers and concrete," 2 Dec. 2019 There’s a live-edge bar, whole swirly wall planks, overhead boards, rectilinear stalactites dangling in a fringe along the windows., "Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe," 18 Sep. 2019 Divers flock to the site to witness the unique geology, which includes massive underwater stalactites and stalagmites that formed during the last glacial period. Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "Creepy Catacombs, Islands of Dolls, and 18 Other Terrifying Places for Thrill Seekers," 4 Sep. 2019 Saltwater corrosion and sea currents have been swallowing up crumbling stalactites of rust. Charlie D'agata, CBS News, "Metal-eating bacteria and corrosion could cause the Titanic to disappear," 21 Aug. 2019 This historic national landmark offers day and overnight tours for spelunkers (both novice and experienced) to explore the cave’s 32 miles of stalagmites, stalactites, and other unique features. National Geographic, "Take an epic road trip to Tennessee’s coolest caverns," 16 Aug. 2019 Listen to ethereal tunes in an underground cavern Virginia’s Luray Caverns has the most amazing stalactites and stalagmites. Trevor Cox, National Geographic, "15 musical wonders to see—and hear," 31 July 2019 Made famous by explorer Jacques Cousteau, this spectacular sunken cave harbors diverse marine life and jagged stalactites. National Geographic, "Belize High School Expedition," 12 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stalactite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of stalactite

1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stalactite

New Latin stalactites, from Greek stalaktos dripping, from stalassein to let drip

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stalactite

Time Traveler for stalactite

Time Traveler

The first known use of stalactite was in 1677

See more words from the same year

Statistics for stalactite

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stalactite.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stalactite


How to pronounce stalactite (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stalactite

: a pointed piece of rock that hangs down from the roof of a cave and that is formed by dripping water which contains minerals


sta·​lac·​tite | \ stə-ˈlak-ˌtīt How to pronounce stalactite (audio) \

Kids Definition of stalactite

: a deposit hanging from the roof or side of a cave in the shape of an icicle formed by the partial evaporation of dripping water containing minerals

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on stalactite

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stalactite

Spanish Central: Translation of stalactite

Nglish: Translation of stalactite for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about stalactite

Comments on stalactite

What made you want to look up stalactite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!