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stalactite

[stuh-lak-tahyt, stal-uh k-tahyt] /stəˈlæk taɪt, ˈstæl əkˌtaɪt/
noun
1.
a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, shaped like an icicle, hanging from the roof of a cave or the like, and formed by the dripping of percolating calcareous water.
Origin
1670-1680
1670-80; < New Latin stalactites < Greek stalakt(ós) dripping (stalag-, stem of stalássein to drip + -tos verbid suffix) + New Latin -ites -ite1
Related forms
stalactitic
[stal-uh k-tit-ik] /ˌstæl əkˈtɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
stalactitical, adjective
stalactitically, adverb
Can be confused
stalactite, stalagmite.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for stalactites

stalactite

/ˈstæləkˌtaɪt/
noun
1.
a cylindrical mass of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave: formed by precipitation from continually dripping water Compare stalagmite
Derived Forms
stalactiform (stəˈlæktɪˌfɔːm) adjective
stalactitic (ˌstæləkˈtɪtɪk), stalactitical, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin stalactites, from Greek stalaktos dripping, from stalassein to drip
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stalactites

stalactite

n.

1670s, Englished from Modern Latin stalactites (used 1654 by Olaus Wormius), from Greek stalaktos "dripping," from stalassein "to trickle," from PIE root *stag- "to seep, drip, drop" (cf. German stallen, Lithuanian telziu "to urinate").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stalactites in Science
stalactite
  (stə-lāk'tīt')   
A cylindrical or conical mineral deposit projecting downward from the roof of a cave or cavern, formed by the dripping of water saturated with minerals. Stalactites form gradually as the minerals precipitate out of the saturated water. They usually consist of calcite but can also consist of other minerals. Compare stalagmite.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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stalactites in Culture
stalactites [(stuh-lak-teyets)]

Rock structures formed on the ceilings of caves as water drips down, leaving behind minerals before it falls. (Compare stalagmites.)

Note: Stalactites grow very slowly.
Note: One easy way to distinguish stalactites from stalagmites is to recall that stalactites “hold tight” to the ceiling of a cave. Stalagmites “might reach the ceiling” of the cave and form a column.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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