[ es-uh-ter-uh-siz-uhm ]
/ ˌɛs əˈtɛr əˌsɪz əm /
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the state or quality of being esoteric.
esoteric principles or writings.
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Origin of esotericism

First recorded in 1840–50; esoteric + -ism

OTHER WORDS FROM esotericism

es·o·ter·i·cist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does esotericism mean?

Esotericism is the state or quality of being esotericobscure and only understood or intended to be understood by a small number of people with special (and perhaps secret) knowledge.

Esotericism often involves knowledge that’s only intended to be revealed to people who have been initiated into a certain group. The word is closely associated with mysticism and the occult.

The word esotericism can also refer to esoteric beliefs or writings. A similar term is esoterica, which collectively refers to such knowledge or to books and other works that contain such topics.

Other, less common names for esotericism are esoterism and esotery. Someone who practices esotericism or holds such beliefs can be called an esotericist.

Example: To the uninitiated, this kind of esotericism is impenetrably arcane.

Where does esotericism come from?

The first records of the word esotericism come from the mid-1800s. It ultimately comes from the Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, meaning “inner.” The suffix -ism indicates a state, condition, doctrine, or system.

Esotericism involves things that can only be understood by an inner circle of people, such as those with in-depth knowledge of an obscure subject. When you come across something that is veiled in esotericism, it’s often difficult to understand what any of it means, unless you happen to have the esoteric knowledge needed to comprehend it.

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What are some other forms related to esotericism?

  • esotericist (noun)
  • esoteric (adjective)

What are some synonyms for esotericism?

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


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

How is esotericism used in real life?

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



Try using esotericism!

Is esotericism used correctly in the following sentence?

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

How to use esotericism in a sentence

  • The star preserves the esotericism of its nomenclature, in whatever sphere it is used, namely, the power of radiating light.

  • It did not hold very long, even with the novelists; for the English taste this esotericism was too exotic.

  • Mohammed, like all great mystics, had discovered or learnt many of the truths of esotericism.

    Reincarnation|Th. Pascal
  • It is such deliberateness in great artists153 that has, curiously enough, acquired for them a reputation for esotericism.