Stalactites

stalactite

[stuh-lak-tahyt, stal-uhk-tahyt]
noun
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:
1670–80; < Neo-Latin stalactites < Greek stalakt(ós) dripping (stalag-, stem of stalássein to drip + -tos verbid suffix) + Neo-Latin -ites -ite1

stalactitic [stal-uhk-tit-ik] , stalactitical, adjective
stalactitically, adverb

stalactite, stalagmite.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
stalactite (ˈstæləkˌtaɪt)
 
n
Compare stalagmite a cylindrical mass of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave: formed by precipitation from continually dripping water
 
[C17: from New Latin stalactites, from Greek stalaktos dripping, from stalassein to drip]
 
stalactiform
 
adj
 
stalactitic
 
adj
 
stalac'titical
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

stalactite
1677, Anglicized from Mod.L. stalactites (used 1654 by Olaus Wormius), from Gk. stalaktos "dripping," from stalassein "to trickle," from PIE base *stag- "to seep, drip, drop" (cf. Ger. stallen, Lith. telziu "to urinate").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
stalactite   (stə-lāk'tīt')  Pronunciation Key 
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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Matching Quote
"With a single companion, I soon found my way to the church of Notre Dame.... The Catholic are the only churches which I have seen worth remembering, which are not almost wholly profane. I do not speak only of the rich and splendid like this, but of the humblest of them as well. Coming from the hurrahing mob and the rattling carriages, we pushed aside the listed door of this church, and found ourselves instantly in an atmosphere which might be sacred to thought and religion, if one had any. There sat one or two women who had stolen a moment from the concerns of the day, as they were passing; but, if there had been fifty people there, it would still have been the most solitary place imaginable. They did not look up at us, nor did one regard another.... I was impressed by the quiet, religious atmosphere of the place. It was a great cave in the midst of a city; and what were the altars and the tinsel but the sparkling stalactites, into which you entered in a moment, and where the still atmosphere and the sombre light disposed to serious and profitable thought? Such a cave at hand, which you can enter any day, is worth a thousand of our churches which are open only Sundays, hardly long enough for an airing, and then filled with a bustling congregation,—a church where the priest is the least part, where you do your own preaching, where the universe preaches to you and can be heard. I am not sure but this Catholic religion would be an admirable one if the priest were quite omitted. I think that I might go to church myself some Monday, if I lived in a city where there was such a one to go to.... As for the Protestant churches, here or elsewhere, they did not interest me, for it is only as caves that churches interest me at all, and in that respect they were inferior."
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