[ es-uh-ter-i-kuh ]
/ ˌɛs əˈtɛr ɪ kə /
Save This Word!

Definition of esoterica

plural noun
things understood by or meant for a select few; recondite matters or items.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of esoterica

First recorded in 1925–30; from New Latin esoterica, noun use of Greek neuter plural adjective esōterikós esoteric
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does esoterica mean?

Esoterica is obscure knowledge or topics that are only understood or intended to be understood by a small number of people, especially those within a certain group.

It can also refer collectively to books and other works that contain such topics. The word is often associated with mysticism and the occult.

The related adjective esoteric is most commonly used to describe obscure topics and matters that are only understood by a small number of people with special (and perhaps secret) knowledge.

In other words, esoterica consists of esoteric knowledge and things filled with esoteric knowledge.

Example: To the uninitiated, this esoterica is impenetrably arcane.

Where does esoterica come from?

The first records of the word esoterica come from the 1920s. It comes from the Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, meaning “inner.”

Esoterica involves things that are only understandable by an inner circle of people, such as those with in-depth knowledge of an obscure subject. When you come across a piece of esoterica, it’s often difficult to understand what any of it means, unless you happen to have the esoteric knowledge needed to comprehend it.

The word exoterica refers to the opposite of esoterica—commonplace knowledge or writings suitable for the general public. Ironically, it’s much less commonly known and used than the word esoterica.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to esoterica?

What are some synonyms for esoterica?

What are some words that share a root or word element with esoterica

What are some words that often get used in discussing esoterica?

How is esoterica used in real life?

The word esoterica is often used in discussion of mystical and occult topics, especially obscure writings about them.



Try using esoterica!

Is esoterica used correctly in the following sentence?

My local independent bookstore has an impressive collection of esoterica—there’s some really far-out stuff in there!