General English


  • noun an indoor or outdoor area surrounded by seating for spectators, where shows or sports events take place


  • An open area for acting or entertainment placed in the centreof an auditorium with seats on all sides; also a theater, concerthall, etc. designed on this principle (in America this is known asan arena theater). The word, which is Latin for sand, cameto mean the central performing area of an ancient Roman amphitheatre.

Origin & History of “arena”

The original sense of Latin (h)arēna was ‘sand’ (hence the English technical term arenaceous ‘sandy’ (17th c.)). The central, ‘stage’ area of classical amphitheatres, where contests were held, was covered with sand (to soak up the contestants’ blood) and so by metaphorical extension arēna became the term for this central area, and hence for any enclosed place used for contests. The word may ultimately be of Etruscan origin.