ex·​o·​ter·​ic ˌek-sə-ˈter-ik How to pronounce exoteric (audio)
: suitable to be imparted to the public
the exoteric doctrine
compare esoteric
: belonging to the outer or less initiate circle
: relating to the outside : external
exoterically adverb

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Exoteric derives from Latin exotericus, which is itself from Greek exōterikos, meaning "external," and ultimately from exō, meaning "outside." Exō has a number of offspring in English, including exotic, exonerate, exorbitant, and the combining form exo- or ex- (as in exoskeleton and exobiology). The antonym of exoteric is esoteric, meaning "designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone"; it descends from the Greek word for "within," esō.

Examples of exoteric in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The High Sierra is exoteric—attentive to the general reader, instructive, open in character. Verlyn Klinkenborg, The Atlantic, 21 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exoteric.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin & Greek; Latin exotericus, from Greek exōterikos, literally, external, from exōterō more outside, comparative of exō outside — more at exo-

First Known Use

1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of exoteric was in 1630


Dictionary Entries Near exoteric

Cite this Entry

“Exoteric.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exoteric. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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