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Cave Exploring

What is a spelunker?


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April 11, 2015 9:32PM

it is a person who explores caves.


Not according to most such people.

I've no idea where the word originated [but now see below] - USA slang yes, but how, when & why I do not know. No American caving literature I've ever read, uses the word. The proper, international, term in the English language is "caver". Simple as that.


Since writing that below my '+++' answer-partition I learnt that "spelunker" was a rather pretentious but harmless invention by two American cavers in the 1930s. It was used for a while quite innocently and picked up the Press and non-caving public. Eventually the word became one of derision among cavers themselves for novices and dilettantes, and so faded away from caving publications; but this development was not realised by non-cavers.

There is a fancy word, Speleologist - this describes a caver who studies scientifically the caves themselves (geology etc) and their contents (wildlife etc.). The first e should really be the ae dipthong character, but it is usually now emasculated to just e. Notably perhaps, one of the world's leading speleology learned-journals is called simply Cave and Karst Science.