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

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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

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 The Great Blue Hole contains stalactites and stalagmites below the surface, some 40 feet in length. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is the Great Blue Hole?," 19 Feb. 2019 Thoughts of a Leviathan dragging me under sent me quickly in reverse, swimming backstroke under massive stalactites hanging two stories above like divebombing dragons. Patrick Scott, WSJ, "A Blow-Your-Mind Adventure in Vietnam’s Caves," 13 Nov. 2018 There’s also Neptune's Grotto, the otherworldly stalactite cave, and Gennargentu National Park, where intrepid hikers can reach the highest point on the island, passing lakes and gorges on trails lush with the wild pink peonies. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Learning From Sardinia, Where Locals Live La Dolce Vita Longer Than Anyone Else," 16 July 2018 Inside the cave, sealed off from the camp by armed guards, the boys and their coach remain agonizingly far from safety, separated from the entrance by pitch-dark tunnels studded by stalactites and full of sharp turns and changes in elevation. NBC News, "Soccer team trapped in Thailand: Weather key to rescue operations as mood turns somber," 6 July 2018 By the time firefighters contained the blaze, the roof had collapsed, the grand oak staircase was reduced to kindling, and fat icicles hung like stalactites from the windows. Inga Saffron,, "A tale of two historic Philadelphia buildings: One rises from the ashes. The other falls to the wrecking ball.," 12 July 2018 The dive is difficult, requiring careful navigation of pitch-black, muddy water through stalactites and around sharp corners. Time, "A Former Thai Navy SEAL Has Died During a Rescue Mission for Soccer Team Trapped in a Cave," 6 July 2018 The water inside the cave flows in strong currents and is cold and full of obstacles such as stalactites as well as sharp turns and changes in elevation. NBC News, "Thailand soccer team rescue: Conditions now 'most suitable' but monsoon threatens," 7 July 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for stalactite

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for stalactite

The first known use of stalactite was in 1677

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More Definitions for stalactite



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

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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).


to take the place or position of

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