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[ahr-key-nuh m] /ɑrˈkeɪ nəm/
noun, plural arcana
[ahr-key-nuh] /ɑrˈkeɪ nə/ (Show IPA)
Often, arcana. a secret; mystery.
a supposed great secret of nature that the alchemists sought to discover.
a secret and powerful remedy.
Origin of arcanum
1590-1600; < Latin, neuter (used as noun) of arcānus arcane Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for arcana
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I took the book down and it was part of Swedenborg's 'arcana Coelestia.'

    Fair Haven and Foul Strand August Strindberg
  • Would that I were in the midst of my arcana and of the spirits once more!

  • Even the wisest of men have hoped for a full knowledge of the arcana of metals.

    Jewel Mysteries Max Pemberton
  • Among the favoured few who penetrated this arcana was Lawyer Maxwell.

    Gabriel Conroy Bert Harte
  • That is not the way to force an entrance into the arcana of Nature.

    The Hidden Masterpiece Honore de Balzac
  • By it Miss Marty—but shall I reveal the arcana of that virgin breast?

    The Mayor of Troy

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • Roberts remained behind, hoping to save some of his valuables, which were in the arcana.

    The Pirates' Who's Who Philip Gosse
  • The theory is useless as an explanation of the arcana of Nature.

  • This view, indeed, was widespread in the arcana of the architectural world.

    The Roll-Call Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for arcana


/ɑːˈkeɪnə; -ˈkɑː-/
either of the two divisions (the minor arcana and the major arcana) of a pack of tarot cards


noun (pl) -na (-nə)
(sometimes pl) a profound secret or mystery known only to initiates
a secret of nature sought by alchemists
Word Origin
C16: from Latin; see arcane
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for arcana

"hidden things, mysteries," 1590s, a direct adoption of the Latin plural of arcanum "a secret, a mystery," from neuter of adjective arcanus "secret, hidden, private, concealed" (see arcane). Occasionally mistaken for a singular and pluralized as arcanas because arcana is far more common than arcanum.



proper singular form of arcana.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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