• synonyms


[ahr-key-nuh m]
noun, plural ar·ca·na [ahr-key-nuh] /ɑrˈkeɪ nə/.
  1. Often arcana. a secret; mystery.
  2. a supposed great secret of nature that the alchemists sought to discover.
  3. a secret and powerful remedy.
Show More

Origin of arcanum

1590–1600; < Latin, neuter (used as noun) of arcānus arcane

arcanum arcanorum

[ahr-kah-noo m ahr-kah-noh-roo m; English ahr-key-nuh m ahr-kuh-nawr-uh m, -nohr-]
noun Latin.
  1. secret of secrets.
Show More
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for arcanum

Historical Examples

  • Sir, it is an arcanum, which I have discovered, and prepared with infinite labour.

    The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

    Tobias Smollett

  • But they too were to be cured, people need only buy his arcanum.

  • The foreigner has no mystic fabric in his government, and no arcanum imperii.

  • It is accounted a noble Remedy, known to few, and held as a great Arcanum.

  • Medicines did not avail, and I had not yet found the arcanum which afterwards so greatly benefitted my suffering soul.

British Dictionary definitions for arcanum


noun plural -na (-nə)
  1. (sometimes plural) a profound secret or mystery known only to initiates
  2. a secret of nature sought by alchemists
Show More

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

Word Origin and History for arcanum


proper singular form of arcana.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper