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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.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɑː(k)tɪk/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɑɹ(k)tɪk/
  • (file)


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.]
    • 1594, Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, London: William Jones,[1]
      What neede the artick people loue star-light,
      To whom the sunne shines both by day and night.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, London, 1668, Book 2, lines 706-711,[2]
      [] on th’ other side
      Incenc’t with indignation Satan stood
      Unterrifi’d, and like a Comet burn’d,
      That fires the length of Ophiucus huge
      In th’ Artick Sky, and from his horrid hair
      Shakes Pestilence and Warr.
    • 1788, Samuel Jackson Pratt, Humanity, or the Rights of Nature, London: T. Cadell, Book 2, p. 96,[3]
      See FREEDOM smiling thro’ the realms of frost,
      And glow on Labradore’s inclement coast,
      Tho’ darkness sheds deep night thro’ half the year,
      And snow invests the clime,—that clime is dear,
      For there fair LIBERTY resides, and there
      At large the native breasts the searching air,
      Where blows the arctic tempests icy gale,
      And famine seizes on the spermy whale,
  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 2010, p. 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.]

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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, London: W. Griffin, Act IV, p. 46,[4]
      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.]

Usage notes[edit]

  • Like Antarctic, this 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 returned thereafter.