It came from the Latin American word “spelunka,” which means cave. It’s also more recently derived from Speleology, which is the scientific study of caves. However, spelunking is not scientific at all, it’s just an unprepared trip into a cave for the fun of it.
The word spelunker came about in the early 1940s in the US. It was “based by some learned person on an ancient and defunct English word spelunk for a cave”. Read the link for more information. Hope this helps!
The word “spelunking” comes from the Middle English word “spelunk”, which means cave. “Spelunk” originally comes from the Greek word spelaion (cave) via Latin and French. Spelaion appears in the New Testament. Though “spelunk” dates from the 16th century, it didn’t turn into a verb until the 20th. The OED cites “spelunking”‘s first use in English in the 1942 novel Weep No More, My Lady.
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