Definition of arcane in English:



  • Understood by few; mysterious or secret:

    ‘arcane procedures for electing people’
    • ‘Records were denied airplay for the most arcane reasons imaginable.’
    • ‘At one point an arcane discussion about the future of cursive handwriting starts up.’
    • ‘Modern conflict may be too complex for arcane forms of protest.’
    • ‘Longhi's metaphors are sometimes arcane, but they can also be familiar.’
    • ‘It may seem an arcane issue to go to war over, but the unions are worried that they are losing an increasing number of workers to the private sector.’
    • ‘In many parts of the globe disputes over history are often not arcane or academic disagreements.’
    • ‘Einstein proceeds to describe with arcane mathematics and symbols his theory of relativity.’
    • ‘If the dos and don'ts of tipping are so arcane, why is it so prevalent?’
    • ‘Eventually, just two competitors stand against each other until one is able to spell some arcane word that the other cannot.’
    • ‘The compact libretto used less of the flowery, arcane language that once had seemed a requisite of high style.’
    • ‘This is not a task to be undertaken lightly: the language is convoluted and arcane.’
    • ‘Can television handle philosophy, which is popularly seen as either arcane or impossibly difficult?’
    • ‘The play has inconsistencies of tone, and like all Shakespearean comedy, its jokes are archaic and arcane.’
    • ‘Under the arcane rules of the council, this has to be debated at an Executive Committee meeting.’
    • ‘But in the arcane world of Commonwealth Games eligibility, nothing is simple.’
    • ‘I could find a mentor and follow them around, learning the arcane and mystical art of pointing.’
    • ‘This arcane practice has to come to an end if investors are to have faith in equities in the long term.’
    • ‘Here at least, the lyrics are quite clear and not concealed beneath some arcane reference.’
    • ‘Civil servants, ministers and the pensions industry agonised over how to interest the public in this arcane subject.’
    • ‘In a busy schedule where usually the legislation is very arcane, it can take years, if ever, for necessary change to occur.’
    mysterious, secret, hidden, concealed, covert, clandestine, enigmatic, dark
    esoteric, obscure, abstruse, recondite, little known, recherché, inscrutable, impenetrable, opaque, incomprehensible, cryptic, occult
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Mid 16th century: from Latin arcanus, from arcere to shut up, from arca chest.