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See also: arctic


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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle French artique (with -c- reintroduced after Latin in the 17th century), from Latin arcticus, from Ancient Greek ἀρκτικός (arktikós, northern, of the (Great) Bear), from ἄρκτος (árktos, bear, Ursa Major), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ŕ̥tḱos (bear). Cognate to Latin ursus.



Arctic (not comparable)

  1. (astronomy, now only in compounds) Pertaining to the celestial north pole, or to the pole star. [from 14th c.]
  2. (geography) Pertaining to the northern polar region of the planet, characterised by extreme cold and an icy landscape. [from 16th c.]
  3. Extremely cold, snowy, or having other properties of extreme winter associated with the Arctic. [from 16th c.]
    • 1979, John Le Carré, Smiley's People, Folio Society, published 2010, page 45:
      ‘Could you close that window, please!’ Strickland called, dialling again. ‘It's bloody arctic down this end.’
  4. Designed for use in very cold conditions. [from 19th c.]

Usage notes[edit]

  • Like Antarctic, the English word was originally pronounced without /k/, but the spelling pronunciation has become the more common one. The "c" was originally added to the spelling for etymological reasons, and its pronunciation followed thereafter.


Proper noun[edit]


  1. (obsolete) The north celestial pole. [15th–17th c.]
  2. (geography) The region of the Earth above the Arctic Circle, containing the North Pole. [from 17th c.]
    • 1772, Richard Cumberland, The Fashionable Lover[3], London: W. Griffin, act IV, page 46:
      I’ve visited the world from arctic to ecliptic, as a surgeon does a hospital, and find all men sick of some distemper []

Derived terms[edit]



Arctic (plural Arctics)

  1. (US, now chiefly historical) A warm waterproof overshoe. [from 19th c.]
  2. Any of various butterflies of the genus Oeneis. [from 20th c.]