[ es-uh-ter-ik ]
See synonyms for esoteric on
  1. understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite: poetry full of esoteric allusions.

  2. belonging to the select few.

  1. private; secret; confidential.

  2. (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

First recorded in 1645–55; from Greek esōterikós “inner,” equivalent to esṓter(os) “inner” + -ikos -ic

Other words for esoteric

Other words from esoteric

  • es·o·ter·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • non·es·o·ter·ic, adjective
  • non·es·o·ter·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • un·es·o·ter·ic, adjective

Words that may be confused with esoteric

Words Nearby esoteric Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use esoteric in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for esoteric


/ (ˌɛsəʊˈtɛrɪk) /

  1. restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority, esp because of abstruseness or obscurity: an esoteric cult Compare exoteric

  2. difficult to understand; abstruse: an esoteric statement

  1. not openly admitted; private: esoteric aims

Origin of esoteric

C17: from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō inner

Derived forms of esoteric

  • esoterically, adverb
  • esotericism, noun

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