Definition of esoteric in English:

esoteric

adjective

  • Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

    ‘esoteric philosophical debates’
    • ‘Why did what was formerly seen as an esoteric cultural theory go from the margins of academia to the mainstream of public debate?’
    • ‘Smell, our seemingly most primitive sense, is often linked to spiritual or esoteric ideas.’
    • ‘While much of the text would be too esoteric for all but the art-history scholar, it does raise broader questions.’
    • ‘According to the esoteric tradition humanity is not the pinnacle of evolution on this planet.’
    • ‘This has led him to an interest in the esoteric world of art restoration.’
    • ‘Every illicit drug now has its own subculture, with its own esoteric knowledge, its own rituals and its own argot.’
    • ‘Although the text is more accessible, it also loses its mysterious and esoteric qualities.’
    • ‘Well in fact that esoteric knowledge is quite an important theme in conspiracy theories.’
    • ‘The trivia enthusiast in me thrilled to discover oodles of esoteric tidbits on every page - and not just about salt.’
    • ‘Gibson's comments on the use of non-standard or esoteric English are particularly wise.’
    • ‘The poems show his erudition to be wide, his historical knowledge sometimes esoteric.’
    • ‘His adored father was a more or less failed Swiss pastor, a melancholic man of esoteric interests.’
    • ‘Deep, hidden or esoteric meanings of the text are rejected in favour of its plain meaning.’
    • ‘He taught mathematics not as some esoteric mystery, but as practical common sense.’
    • ‘The Left makes incredibly esoteric distinctions based on the motives of the social planners doing the killing.’
    • ‘Now all such esoteric knowledge is regarded as suspect, as somehow unjust.’
    • ‘When so few people have been encouraged to learn trades, the special skills involved in them become esoteric.’
    • ‘He is fond of pointing out how esoteric this debate is to the wider public.’
    • ‘Butler's report will be full of esoteric recommendations about working practices inside government.’
    • ‘It means that you live in one place, but exist in another esoteric, imaginary plane, unshackled by fact or memory.’
    abstruse, obscure, arcane, recherché, rarefied, recondite, abstract, difficult, hard, puzzling, perplexing, enigmatic, inscrutable, cryptic, delphic
    View synonyms

Origin

Mid 17th century: from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, comparative of esō ‘within’, from es, eis ‘into’. Compare with exoteric.

Pronunciation

esoteric

/ˌɛsəˈtɛrɪk//ˌiːsəˈtɛrɪk/