re·​con·​dite ˈre-kən-ˌdīt How to pronounce recondite (audio) ri-ˈkän- How to pronounce recondite (audio)
: difficult or impossible for one of ordinary understanding or knowledge to comprehend : deep
a recondite subject
: of, relating to, or dealing with something little known or obscure
recondite fact about the origin of the holidayFloyd Dell
: hidden from sight : concealed
reconditely adverb
reconditeness noun

Did you know?

Recondite is one of those underused but useful words that’s always a boon to one’s vocabulary. Though it describes something difficult to understand, there is nothing recondite about the word’s history. It dates to the early 1600s, when it was coined from the Latin word reconditus, the past participle of recondere, “to conceal.” (“Concealed” is also a meaning of recondite, albeit an obscure one today.) Remove the re- of recondite and you get something even more obscure: condite, an obsolete verb meaning both “to pickle or preserve” and “to embalm.” Add the prefix in- to that quirky charmer and we get incondite, which means “badly put together,” as in “incondite prose.” All three words have the Latin word condere at their root; that verb is translated variously as “to put or bring together” and “to put up or store”—as in, perhaps, some pickles or preserves.

Examples of recondite in a Sentence

geochemistry is a recondite subject
Recent Examples on the Web Pierre Boulez — like Bernstein, a composer, though in a more recondite modernist mode — innovated with repertory mixtures and concert formats. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2023 After describing the mummification process in recondite detail—not only why the brain was removed through the nose but how exactly natron dried out the rest of the body—the child drew an elaborate cartouche with the hieroglyphs used to spell my name. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 7 Feb. 2022 Not to suggest that this is merely a specialist and recondite affair: Bessel van der Kolk, whose psychiatric work with trauma victims is predicated on the idea that neuroimaging can identify an objective physiological correlate to psychic distress, is one such semi-hard scientist. Will Self, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Zhao is hardly the first filmmaker to blur fiction and nonfiction techniques with such assurance; regular festivalgoers have likely seen far more radical, recondite examples of her sensibility in the work of auteurs like Jia Zhangke, Pedro Costa and Oliver Laxe. Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2021 Nowhere is that inducement clearer than in books that deal with the private lives of famous architects, which are far more likely to engage general readers than recondite technical treatises or the abstruse theoretical cogitations that have long dominated academic architectural publishing. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, 11 Feb. 2021 Throughout, the syntax is punchy and slangy, while the diction often grows brazenly recondite. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2022 If the original postmodernists had been mandarins engaged in recondite philosophical debates, the applied postmodernists were something more like political entrepreneurs. Park MacDougald, Washington Examiner, 17 Dec. 2020 But perhaps nothing has contributed more to the latest revival of dynastic fortunes than a spate of innovation around trusts, known by such recondite acronyms as SLATs, CRUTs, and BDITs. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 16 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'recondite.' 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 reconditus, past participle of recondere to conceal, from re- + condere to store up, from com- + -dere to put — more at com-, do

First Known Use

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of recondite was in 1619


Dictionary Entries Near recondite

Cite this Entry

“Recondite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​con·​dite ˈrek-ən-ˌdīt How to pronounce recondite (audio) ri-ˈkän- How to pronounce recondite (audio)
: hidden from sight
: difficult to understand : deep
a recondite subject

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