a. Intended for or understood by only a small group, especially one with specialized knowledge or interests: an esoteric philosophical doctrine. See Synonyms at mysterious.
b. Relating to or being a small group with specialized knowledge or interests: an esoteric circle.
2. Not known by or suitable for the public; private: Few understood the celebrity's esoteric side.
1. One that is esoteric.
2. esoterics Esoteric matters; esoterica: "The course ... is anything but an exercise in ivory tower esoterics" (Sharon Waxman).
[Greek esōterikos, from esōterō, comparative of esō, within; see en in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.