V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: 1. requiring secret or mysterious knowledge to be understood; 2. difficult to understand

Synonyms: obscure, inscrutable, esoteric, mysterious, secret, restricted

Antonyms: obvious, well-known

Tips: Arcane can be used in both a very specific way, to describe something that is only known to those who are initiated into the knowledge, or it can be used in a more general sense to describe something that is mysterious and hard-to-understand and accordingly, only understood by a few. Arcane is synonymous with esoteric when used to describe something only understood by a select few. Esoteric is used to describe anything that is difficult for the general populace to understand and limited to a select group of experts. For example: the esoteric language of doctors, lawyers, and the financial experts on Wall Street. Arcane is often used to describe something that is only known by a secret group or society, and only a few people know about it because it has been kept secret. Arcane and esoteric can otherwise be used interchangeably.

Usage Examples:

The arcane rites of passage involved in the granting of academic tenure are a mystery to all but the initiated. (secret, obscure)

His arcane observations about the world were a mystery to me. (obscure, inscrutable)

The arcane expression on his face made me think that he was hiding something from me. (mysterious)

The arcane language used by members of the secret society was meant to confuse the uninitiated. (esoteric, secret)

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