- Law. the malicious burning of another’s house or property, or in some statutes, the burning of one’s own house or property, as to collect insurance.
- criminal law the act of intentionally or recklessly setting fire to another’s property or to one’s own property for some improper reason
1670s, from Anglo-French arsoun (late 13c.), Old French arsion, from Late Latin arsionem (nominative arsio) “a burning,” noun of action from past participle stem of Latin ardere “to burn,” from PIE root *as- “to burn, glow” (see (n.1)). The Old English term was bærnet, literally “burning;” and Coke has indictment of burning (1640).