Definition of stalactite in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈstaləktʌɪt/


Image of stalactite
A tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water.
Example sentences
  • Originally formed by a subterranean stream, then flooded by the sea, it is a rare opportunity to dive in salt water among stalactites and stalagmites.
  • When a stalactite or stalagmite is deposited it contains a large amount of uranium and no thorium because of differences in the chemical behaviour of these elements.
  • He was in a cave, stalactites and stalagmites all around him.



Pronunciation: /-ˈlaktɪk/


Pronunciation: /-ˈlaktɪfɔːm/


Pronunciation: /staləkˈtɪtɪk/
Example sentences
  • Also noteworthy are the rare stalactitic overgrowths to 20 cm of pale to medium green fluorite cubes formed along earlier ‘strings’ of whitish finely crystalline quartz.
  • These early-formed needles often serve as nuclei for the stalactitic growth of other minerals, usually thomsonite or chabazite.
  • These larger crystals sometimes exhibit a pagoda-like appearance with circumferential ridges and are somewhat stalactitic in habit.


Late 17th century: from modern Latin stalactites, from Greek stalaktos 'dripping', based on stalassein 'to drip'.

  • Stalactites hang down from the roof of a cave. The name comes from Greek stalaktos ‘dropping or dripping’. Stalagmites (late 17th century), on the other hand, rise up from the floor of a cave, formed from the evaporated dripping from above. Greek stalagma ‘a drop or drip’ is the source this time.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: stal¦ac|tite

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.