• WordNet 3.6
    • n stalactite a cylinder of calcium carbonate hanging from the roof of a limestone cave
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Mineral deposits in caves: The ones growing upward are stalagmites, the ones growing downward are stalactites.
    • n Stalactite (Geol) A pendent cone or cylinder of calcium carbonate resembling an icicle in form and mode of attachment. Stalactites are found depending from the roof or sides of caverns, and are produced by deposition from waters which have percolated through, and partially dissolved, the overlying limestone rocks.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n stalactite A deposit of carbonate of lime, usually resembling in form a huge icicle, which hangs from the roof of a cave or subterranean rock-opening, where it has been slowly formed by deposition from calcareous water trickling downward through cracks or openings in the rocks above. Water containing carbonic acid in solution, which it has gained in filtering through the overlying soil, has the power of dissolving carbonate of lime, which it deposits again upon evaporation; stalactites are hence common in regions of limestone rocks. They are sometimes white, and nearly transparent, showing the broad cleavage-surfaces of the calcite, as those of the cave near Matanzas in Cuba; but commonly they have a granular structure with concentric bands of pale-yellow to brown colors. In some caverns the stalactites are very numerous and large, and of great beauty in their endless variety of form, especially in connection with the stalagmites, the corresponding depositions accumulated beneath the stalactites upon the floor of the caverns. The caves of Adelsberg in Carniola and of Luray in Virginia are among the most celebrated for the beauty of their stalactites.
    • n stalactite A similar form of some other mineral species, such as are occasionally observed, for example, of chalcedony, limonite, etc., but only sparingly and on a small scale.
    • n stalactite A like form of lava sometimes observed in connection with volcanic outflows. Lava stalactites have been noted hanging from the roofs of lava caverns in the crater of Kilauea in Hawaii; and slender forms of a nearly uniform diameter of one fourth of an inch, and from a few inches to 20 or 30 inches in length, ornament the roofs of caverns in the lava stream which descended from Mauna Loa in the same island in 1881. Stalagmites of lava rise from the lava floor beneath.
    • n stalactite In decorative architecture of certain schools, a pendent ornament with sharp edges and generally one of many in a group.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Stalactite sta-lak′tīt a deposit of carbonate of lime, hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cavern, formed by the dripping of water
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Gr. stalakto`s oozing out in drops, dropping, fr. stala`zein to drop: cf. F. stalactite,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr. stalaktosstalazein, to drip.


In literature:

The sweet tones echoed among the stalactites, lingering as if loth to die.
"Chatterbox, 1906" by Various
In this upper cavern we saw some tall and beautiful stalactite pillars.
"Fragments of science, V. 1-2" by John Tyndall
Day at last; with a glorious flush of light reaching down the valley, and making the stalactites on the roof to glisten.
"The Golden Magnet" by George Manville Fenn
Playing it upward he could only get a faint reflection from the stalactites hundreds of feet away.
"Hunters Out of Space" by Joseph Everidge Kelleam
There are caves upon this island containing large stalactites.
"The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, Vol. II" by Thomas Lord Cochrane
They resemble stalactites, and in the beginning are like the cup of an acorn.
"New observations on the natural history of bees" by Francis Huber
Round arches which sustain the dome spring from stalactite-shaped brackets.
"The Shores of the Adriatic" by F. Hamilton Jackson
The dome walls arise in a series of richly tinted rings, each 8 or 10 ft. thick, and each fringed by stalactites.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 6, Slice 6" by Various
Lights glistened on stalactites which cut off Olear's larger view, and voices came from below.
"Astounding Stories, June, 1931" by Various
He squeezed the trigger, and the stalactite directly over their heads shattered into a thousand pieces, showering them with limestone.
"The Caves of Fear" by John Blaine
Under such hangings the floor is built up in stalactites.
"Earth and Sky Every Child Should Know" by Julia Ellen Rogers
Its appearance, then, is that of a branch of stalactite.
"Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China During the years 1844-5-6. Volume 1 [of 2]" by Evariste Regis Huc
The glinting of the sun's rays through the crevices in the cave, and the sparkling of the stalactites on the walls, first awakened Sybil.
"Tried for Her Life" by Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth
These doorways are placed in a rectangular recess roofed with the stalactite vault.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 6" by Various
The roof was covered with beautiful white stalactites, but the eye could not penetrate the thick darkness in this direction.
"The Ruined Cities of Zululand" by Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley
Others slowly forming from the tops of the cave hung there and are termed stalactites.
"Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia" by Carrie Hunter Willis
In time the stalactites and the stalagmites will meet, forming a great column reaching from floor to ceiling.
"Nature's Miracles, Volume 1" by Elisha Gray
He roused himself by trying to recall what it was that Norris had told them about stalactites.
"Unexplored!" by Allen Chaffee
From this dome depended a huge crystal chandelier like a bulbous stalactite.
"Where the Path Breaks" by Charles de Créspigny
It is usually stalagmitic or stalactitic in origin and is often of a yellowish colour.
"The New Gresham Encyclopedia. Vol. 1 Part 1" by Various

In news:

A limestone cave with stalactites and stalagmites.
When I made the first incision the glitter of the stalactites in the poor fellow's gastric cavity positively blinded me — I had to wear blue glasses for a month.
Stalactite Serenity Click to enlarge.
We are 300 feet below the earth's surface in Sequoia National Park's Crystal Cave, aptly named for its magnificent, shining stalactites and stalagmites that surround us.
As more of the polymer is brushed on, the tube builds up and out, like the structure of an icicle or a stalactite, adding millimeters to even the shortest of hairs.