A Word A Day : Arcane

Thursday, 28th February 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : aar-káyn


1. difficult or impossible to understand

2. requiring secret knowledge to be understood

3. mysteriously obscure

4. that which is hidden or secret; usually refers to rites associated with the mystery religions or secret societies

5. known or understood by only a few


Early 16th century - Latin arcanus- closed, secret - arca - box


cabalistic, cryptic, enigmatic, mysterious, mystic, mystical, mystifying, occult, puzzling, esoteric, hidden, impenetrable, mystic, recondite, unaccountable, unknowable, esoteric, hidden, secret

Eclectic means selecting what seems best of various styles, methods or ideas.

Esoteric means intended for and understandable by only a small knowledgeable group.

Mysterious means of an obscure nature.

Mystical means having a divine meaning that transcends human understanding.


common, commonplace, comprehensible, knowable, known, normal, outward

Contextual Examples:

• She knew a lot about Sanskrit grammar and other arcane matters.

• I could not understand those arcane economic theories.

• Tokyo Butter is far from an elegy or a memorial; reaching beyond traditional limitations, it seeks remnants of Deidre's life, passion, and essence in news stories, arcane tidbits of science, balloon warfare, and Internet search engines, among other places.

• The rites of the secret cult were arcane. No one outside the cult knew what they were.

• The arcane formula for the cocktail was scrawled in blood on a faded scrap of paper.

• We could make out only a little of the arcane inscription on the old trunk.

Related Words:

arcanely : Adverb

arcaneness : Noun

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