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Cave Exploring
Lungs

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.