ar·​cane | \ är-ˈkān How to pronounce arcane (audio) \

Definition of arcane

: known or knowable only to a few people : secret arcane rites an arcane ritual broadly : mysterious, obscure arcane explanations arcane technical details

Synonyms & Antonyms for arcane



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of arcane in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web They were designed to fit within bizarre and arcane parliamentary budget rules. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 21 Oct. 2021 McConnell has insisted that Democrats use a complex and arcane budget process known as reconciliation to raise the debt limit, which would shield it from a filibuster and allow it to be passed without any Republican votes., 9 Oct. 2021 But more than 65% of eligible vets don’t receive A&A, largely due to its arcane application process. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, WSJ, 7 Oct. 2021 Among the many arcane rules that still govern English soccer, the most frustrating for fans remains the decades-old decree that governs games on Saturdays at 3 p.m. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, 31 Oct. 2021 This system is so arcane, and that’s obviously by design, so that it can be manipulated and also hidden from most people. The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, 27 Oct. 2021 Humans do these weird arcane things and never do the same path twice. Quartz Staff, Quartz, 18 Oct. 2021 Central bankers have largely read prices rises as ‘transitory’, but a research paper from an important figure in the arcane world of central banking (Jeremy Rudd) suggests that central banks are complacent about inflation. Mike O'sullivan, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 The result is a story of spiritual crises with a narrative range more expansive than Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead novels, which can sometimes feel liturgical in their arcane ruminations. Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arcane.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of arcane

1547, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arcane

Latin arcanus

Learn More About arcane

Dictionary Entries Near arcane




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for arcane

Last Updated

16 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Arcane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on arcane

Nglish: Translation of arcane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of arcane for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!