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arena (n.)

1620s, "place of combat," from Latin harena "place of combat, enclosed space in the middle of Roman amphitheaters," originally "sand, sandy place" (source also of Spanish arena, Italian rena, French arène "sand"), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Etruscan. The central stages of Roman amphitheaters were strewn with sand to soak up the blood. Figuratively, "scene of contest of any kind" is by 1814.

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Definitions of arena from WordNet

arena (n.)
a particular environment or walk of life;
Synonyms: sphere / domain / area / orbit / field
arena (n.)
the central area of an ancient Roman amphitheater where contests and spectacles were held; especially an area that was strewn with sand;
arena (n.)
a large structure for open-air sports or entertainments;
Synonyms: stadium / bowl / sports stadium
arena (n.)
a playing field where sports events take place;
Synonyms: scene of action
From wordnet.princeton.edu