[ahr-key-nuh m]

noun, plural ar·ca·na [ahr-key-nuh] /ɑrˈkeɪ nə/.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for arcana



either of the two divisions (the minor arcana and the major arcana) of a pack of tarot cards


noun plural -na (-nə)

(sometimes plural) a profound secret or mystery known only to initiates
a secret of nature sought by alchemists

Word Origin for arcanum

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

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