[ 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use esoteric in a sentence

  • To do this, it uses a metric related to lift capacity and vertical transportation feet per hour that’s so esoteric not one of the resorts I asked could tell me what theirs was.

    Small ski areas, big impact | Dina Mishev | February 5, 2021 | Washington Post
  • While even most non-investors understand the basic premise of buying shares in the hope stocks will rise, shorting shares—that is, investing in a stock’s decline—is a much more esoteric practice best left to the professionals.

    Shorting stocks is a 400-year old practice | Oliver Staley | January 31, 2021 | Quartz
  • M. Bourgeat hazards the suggestion that esoterically it is the symbol of evolution—of which it carries none of the signs.

  • But before we attack the subject esoterically, let us look a moment at the man as he appears in his relation to the community.

    The Soul of the Far East | Percival Lowell
  • 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
  • Esoterically, she is the daughter of the exalted God, and she is the soul.

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