[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. esophagostomy,
  2. esophagotomy,
  3. esophagus,
  4. esophoria,
  5. esosphenoiditis,
  6. esoterica,
  7. esotericism,
  8. esoterism,
  9. esotery,
  10. esotropia

Origin of esoteric

1645–55; < Greek esōterikós inner, equivalent to esṓter(os) inner + -ikos -ic

Related formses·o·ter·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·es·o·ter·ic, adjectivenon·es·o·ter·i·cal·ly, adverbun·es·o·ter·ic, adjective

Can be confusedesoteric exoteric Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for esoterically

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

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

  • Esoterically, she is the daughter of the exalted God, and she is the soul.

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

British Dictionary definitions for esoterically


/ (ˌɛsəʊˈtɛrɪk) /


restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority, esp because of abstruseness or obscurityan esoteric cult Compare exoteric
difficult to understand; abstrusean esoteric statement
not openly admitted; privateesoteric aims
Derived Formsesoterically, adverbesotericism, noun

Word Origin for esoteric

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

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