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[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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for arcane
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • arcane now admitted that they could not have got along half as well, if we had not gone ahead and looked out the land.

    Death Valley in '49 William Lewis Manly
  • arcane was much pleased and laughed heartily when he saw no one was hurt.

    Death Valley in '49 William Lewis Manly
  • The earth is tapped of its arcane energies, the very air yields to us its mysterious powers.

    National Being (A.E.)George William Russell
  • We met Bennett and arcane's teamsters, and as we expected they were already out of grub and no way to get anymore.

    Death Valley in '49 William Lewis Manly
  • arcane took a bucket of water back from camp and after drinking it and resting awhile the ox was driven down to the spring.

    Death Valley in '49 William Lewis Manly
British Dictionary definitions for arcane


requiring secret knowledge to be understood; mysterious; esoteric
Derived Forms
arcanely, adverb
arcaneness, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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