Definition of exoteric in US English:



  • (especially of a doctrine or mode of speech) intended for or likely to be understood by the general public.

    ‘an exoteric, literal meaning and an esoteric, inner teaching’
    The opposite of esoteric
    • ‘Some religious books counted as mere exoteric teaching for the masses.’
    • ‘By contrast with his exoteric presentation at Birkbeck a week ago, his lecture last night - aimed ‘at comrades’ - was a much more focused affair.’
    • ‘They believed also in esoteric meanings accessible only to the powerful elite, as opposed to exoteric doctrine suitable for the masses.’
    • ‘The ordinary people are required to accept the Quran in its literal or exoteric sense whereas the philosophers have much more discretion in interpreting scriptural truth.’
    • ‘This seems untrue to me, since the Will to Power was merely Nietzsche's exoteric doctrine.’


Mid 17th century: via Latin from Greek exōterikos, from exōterō ‘outer’, comparative of exō ‘outside’.