esoteric


es·o·ter·ic

adjective \ˌe-sə-ˈter-ik, -ˈte-rik\

: only taught to or understood by members of a special group : hard to understand

: limited to a small number of people

Full Definition of ESOTERIC

1
a :  designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone <a body of esoteric legal doctrine — B. N. Cardozo>
b :  requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group <esoteric terminology>; broadly :  difficult to understand <esoteric subjects>
2
a :  limited to a small circle <engaging in esoteric pursuits>
b :  private, confidential <an esoteric purpose>
3
:  of special, rare, or unusual interest <esoteric building materials>
es·o·ter·i·cal·ly \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of ESOTERIC

  1. <metaphysics is such an esoteric subject that most people are content to leave it to the philosophers>
  2. <must have had some esoteric motive for leaving his art collection to a museum halfway around the globe>
  3. A kahuna is a master of Hawaiian esoteric practices. Recently, Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman engaged a kahuna to bless their house. … —Alec Wilkinson, New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2002

Origin of ESOTERIC

Late Latin esotericus, from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, comparative of eisō, esō within, from eis into; akin to Greek en in — more at in
First Known Use: circa 1660

Browse

Next Word in the Dictionary: esoterica
Previous Word in the Dictionary: esophagus
All Words Near: esoteric

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up esoteric? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).