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[es-uh-ter-ik] /ˌɛs əˈtɛr ɪk/
understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite:
poetry full of esoteric allusions.
belonging to the select few.
private; secret; confidential.
(of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group:
the esoteric doctrines of Pythagoras.
Origin of esoteric
1645-55; < Greek esōterikós inner, equivalent to esṓter(os) inner + -ikos -ic
Related forms
esoterically, adverb
nonesoteric, adjective
nonesoterically, adverb
unesoteric, adjective
Can be confused
esoteric, exoteric.
1. abstruse, arcane, cryptic, enigmatic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for esoterically
Historical Examples
  • esoterically, she is the daughter of the exalted God, and she is the soul.

  • M. Bourgeat hazards the suggestion that esoterically it is the symbol of evolution—of which it carries none of the signs.

  • He desired that the Kabbala be taught only in secret (esoterically), and be not expounded in public.

  • esoterically understood, his novel teaches a doctrine of mysticism, intuitionalism, and materialism combined.

    Balzac Frederick Lawton
British Dictionary definitions for esoterically


restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority, esp because of abstruseness or obscurity: an esoteric cult Compare exoteric
difficult to understand; abstruse: an esoteric statement
not openly admitted; private: esoteric aims
Derived Forms
esoterically, adverb
esotericism, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō inner
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for esoterically



1650s, from Greek esoterikos "belonging to an inner circle," from esotero "more within," comparative adverb of eso "within," related to eis "into," en "in" (see en- (2)).

In English, originally of Pythagorean doctrines. According to Lucian, the division of teachings into exoteric and esoteric originated with Aristotle.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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