9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[es-uh-ter-ik] /ˌɛs əˈtɛr ɪk/
understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite:
poetry full of esoteric allusions.
belonging to the select few.
private; secret; confidential.
(of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group:
the esoteric doctrines of Pythagoras.
Origin of esoteric
1645-55; < Greek esōterikós inner, equivalent to esṓter(os) inner + -ikos -ic
Related forms
esoterically, adverb
nonesoteric, adjective
nonesoterically, adverb
unesoteric, adjective
Can be confused
esoteric, exoteric.
1. abstruse, arcane, cryptic, enigmatic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for esoteric
  • In any event, the debate is really rather esoteric and non-pertaining to anything else .
  • The particles that once seemed impossibly esoteric have become ever more informative.
  • Some of their anthems can be a bit too intricate and esoteric for newcomers.
  • Its size and complexity make it forbidding and esoteric.
  • Seeing as we are all being very esoteric I shall offer up some thoughts.
  • As a scientific journal it is easy to publish esoteric articles with no immediate implications for your quality of life.
  • The more esoteric the bug, the harder it is to find and correct.
  • This isn't just some esoteric philosophical discussion.
  • Those names, even the most esoteric ones, are not imaginary.
  • They pored over esoteric used books and ancient cellophane-wrapped newspapers.
British Dictionary definitions for esoteric


restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority, esp because of abstruseness or obscurity: an esoteric cult Compare exoteric
difficult to understand; abstruse: an esoteric statement
not openly admitted; private: esoteric aims
Derived Forms
esoterically, adverb
esotericism, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Greek esōterikos, from esōterō inner
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for esoteric

1650s, from Greek esoterikos "belonging to an inner circle," from esotero "more within," comparative adverb of eso "within," related to eis "into," en "in" (see en- (2)).

In English, originally of Pythagorean doctrines. According to Lucian, the division of teachings into exoteric and esoteric originated with Aristotle.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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