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

/ˌiːsəˈtɛrɪk//ˌɛsəˈtɛrɪk/