Both ‘stalactite’ and ‘stalagmite’ originate from the Greek word stalassein meaning ‘to drip’. The first use of both words goes back to the 17th century. Both stalactites and stalagmites are also called dripstones as they form from minerals in dripping water.

Stalactites are the mineral formations that hang down like rock icicles, while stalagmites rise up from the floor. The word stalactite comes from the Greek word for “dripping,” stalaktos, which in turn comes from the verb stalassein, “to trickle,” which is how stalactites are formed. Water comes down through the top of the cave, bringing rock minerals with it that eventually form those pointy stalactites.

A stalagmite is the pointed formation that rises from the floor of a cave. When you go spelunking, or cave exploring, you’ll have to avoid the areas where stalagmites have formed.

Stalagmites are thin piles of mineral deposits that have fallen from the roof to the floor of a cave. They’re sometimes connected to the stalactites that dangle down from the top. Because stalagmites form from drops of water combined with minerals, they get their name from the Greek stalagmos, “a dropping,” and share a root with stalactite — the Greek stalassein, “to trickle.”

Credit: vocabulary.com

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