Definition of arcana in English:


plural noun

  • 1Secrets or mysteries.

    ‘the arcana of his profession’
    • ‘So she's methodically built up a comfort level with national security issues, joining the Armed Services Committee and spending countless hours mastering military arcana.’
    • ‘The arcana of these flow levels have become the very center of this heated dispute, as advocates attack each other's acceptable flow-rate figures with gusto.’
    • ‘His mastery of actuarial arcana is very impressive.’
    • ‘It was that, and not the arcana of missile throw weights or U.N. treaties, that defined his policy toward the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘Through the plate glass window on your left, is a stainless steel vat, presses, and other arcana of the cheesemaker's art.’
    • ‘But anyone wanting to get a job as a graphic designer is probably claiming to be detail-oriented, aesthetically aware, obsessive about getting things perfect, and tuned to the arcana of graphic design.’
    • ‘Like most people, I understand next to nothing about the arcana of computer programming.’
    • ‘Brainstorming sessions involved exploring symbolism from around the world and through the ages, mandalas, alchemy and assorted arcana.’
    • ‘The first class, today at 9: 30, is Federal Jurisdiction, the law school course most known for mystery and arcana.’
    • ‘The original Tattler articles on Edwin Gray were at the Rex Research site, which hosts hundreds of documents on contemporary arcana.’
    • ‘The game allowed senior officers from all services to consider logistics, communications, intelligence and the other complex arcana of military operations.’
    • ‘That Will succeeds in making the topic compelling is a testament to his skill, but also to the fact that his subject is not the arcana of campaign finance reform, but rather the vital importance of keeping the First Amendment alive.’
    • ‘Not that I am expert in this sort of arcana, just so you know.’
    • ‘Second, his academic experience at the University of Chicago makes him singularly suited to translate the arcana of policy into an accessible format.’
    • ‘Atwood would have been a biologist had she not become a writer, so learned discussions about scientific arcana are the norm in her family.’
    • ‘I'm afraid Arthur has revealed his weakness for arcana and subterfuge with this one.’
    • ‘You must check with me on your John Lennon arcana.’
  • 2Either of the two groups of cards in a tarot pack: the twenty-two trumps (the major arcana) and the fifty-six suit cards (the minor arcana).

    • ‘Gresham organizes each chapter along the twenty-two minor arcana of the Tarot, a device used by later authors such as Robert Anton Wilson and Umberto Eco.’
    • ‘I wonder if he's going to do the whole deck or just the major arcana.’
    • ‘However, one really can not assign the minor arcana without use of numerology, as one is still formulating suit to number.’
    • ‘There is an excellent list for the major arcana within the magic section.’
    • ‘It is only the major arcana and not terribly well thought through but it is still going on my collecting list.’
    • ‘This inevitably led to discussions of the major arcana, and the realization that the best implementation would likely be an existing kid's alphabet set.’
    • ‘Apparently drawing on Caribbean folklore to dramatise the concepts of the minor cards, hers was the first deck to actually represent the minor arcana figuratively.’
    • ‘I stumbled across your site a little while ago while I was doing some research into the minor arcana and into my name.’
    • ‘With this understanding, each card in the minor arcana is a gate to a particular experience, so it's hard for me to swallow that certain ones are particularly better.’
    • ‘The biggest difference between the decks is the lack of pictures - playing cards developed from the Marseilles Tarot which didn't have any pictures on the minor arcana, and kept only the Fool in the form of the joker.’
    • ‘Thus, the major arcana represent the paths between spheres, the number cards are the interaction of an element with a sphere, and the court cards are the interaction of elements.’
    • ‘It's a euphemism for the Tarot major arcana, based on the myth that the Egyptian god Thoth's wisdom was written down in the eponymous book, for magicians to discover.’
    • ‘We've been through various mappings to the major arcana of the tarot.’


Mid 16th century: from Latin, neuter plural of arcanus (see arcane).