Definition of spelunking in US English:



North American
  • The exploration of caves, especially as a hobby.

    • ‘He also thought, ‘Why not do this on my own and have more time for spelunking?’’
    • ‘Outdoor activities such as kayaking, spelunking and extreme sports have also become popular escapes from the fast pace of modern life.’
    • ‘With lots of grutas or caves, spelunking and cave exploration is also possible in the Yucatan, though is not well developed yet for tourism.’
    • ‘Although Birmans are a placid, gentle race whose serenity rivals that of the Dalai Lama, they are as capable as the next cat of pulling the occasional caper - wind surfing or spelunking for example.’
    • ‘And if he knows all about those coal mines, maybe he can take you spelunking!’


1940s: from obsolete spelunk ‘cave’ (from Latin spelunca) + -ing.