- 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.
- restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority, esp because of abstruseness or obscurityan esoteric cult Compare
- difficult to understand; abstrusean esoteric statement
- not openly admitted; privateesoteric aims
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 (2)).
In English, originally of Pythagorean doctrines. According to Lucian, the division of teachings into exoteric and esoteric originated with Aristotle.