[ ahr-keyn ]
/ ɑrˈkeɪn /


known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric: She knew a lot about Sanskrit grammar and other arcane matters.

Origin of arcane

1540–50; (< Middle French) < Latin arcānus, equivalent to arc(ēre) to shut up, keep (derivative of arca a chest, box) + -ānus -an Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for arcane

British Dictionary definitions for arcane


/ (ɑːˈkeɪn) /


requiring secret knowledge to be understood; mysterious; esoteric
Derived Formsarcanely, adverbarcaneness, noun

Word Origin for arcane

C16: from Latin arcānus secret, hidden, from arcēre to shut up, keep safe
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 arcane



1540s, from Latin arcanus "secret, hidden, private, concealed," from arcere "close up, enclose, contain," from arca "chest, box, place for safe-keeping," from PIE *ark- "to hold, contain, guard" (cf. Greek arkos "defense," arkein "to ward off;" Armenian argel "obstacle;" Lithuanian raktas "key," rakinti "to shut, lock").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper