Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not confined to an inner circle of disciples or initiates.
  • adj. Comprehensible to or suited to the public; popular.
  • adj. Of or relating to the outside; external.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Suitable to be imparted to the public without secrecy or other reserves
  • adj. Accessible; capable of being readily or fully comprehended; or, having an obvious application
  • adj. Public or popular; having wide currency
  • adj. External

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. External; public; suitable to be imparted to the public; hence, capable of being readily or fully comprehended; -- opposed to esoteric, or secret.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • External; open; suitable for or communicated to the general public; popular: originally applied to the public teachings of Aristotle and other ancient philosophers, and sometimes used in a more special sense as opposed to fancied or real esoteric doctrines, See esoteric.
  • Pertaining to the outside; holding an external relation; publicly instructed.
  • In embryology, ectoblastic. See extract under esoteric.
  • n. One admitted only to exoteric instruction; one of the uninitiated.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. suitable for the general public

Etymologies

Latin exōtericus, external, from Greek exōterikos, from exōterō, comparative of exō, outside; see exo-.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin exōtericus, from Ancient Greek ἐξωτερικός (eksōterikos, "external"), adjectival form of ἐξώτερος (eksōteros, "outside"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • For over 50 years (including in the Foreword to my own upcoming book) Smith has distinguished between what he calls the exoteric (outer) aspects of religion and the esoteric (inner).

    Philip Goldberg: Who Says All Religions Are the Same?

  • On the other hand the doctrines of what Kûkai classified as exoteric are traced to either what the historical buddha, Śakyamuni, preached or what the celestial buddhas are preaching in the heavenly dimensions.

    Laughter

  • What we may call the exoteric basis of Numaism was a ritual of many ceremonies connected with home-life and agriculture, and designed to keep alive a feeling for the sacredness of these.

    The Crest-Wave of Evolution A Course of Lectures in History, Given to the Graduates' Class in the Raja-Yoga College, Point Loma, in the College-Year 1918-19

  • These outdoor talks were called exoteric, and there gradually grew up esoteric lessons, which were for the rich or luxurious and the dainty.

    Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Philosophers, Volume 8

  • Churches by John while he yet remained in the body (adhuc in corpore constituto); as (one) Papias by name, of Hierapolis, a beloved disciple of John, has related in his exoteric, that is, in his last five books (in exotericis, id est, in extremis quinque libris); but he wrote down the Gospel at the dictation of John, correctly (descripsit vero evangelium dictante Johanne recte).

    Essays on the work entitled "Supernatural Religion"

  • The Egyptian theology, or doctrine of the gods, was of two kinds, -- esoteric and exoteric, that is, an interior theology for the initiated, and an exterior theology for the uninitiated.

    Ten Great Religions An Essay in Comparative Theology

  • Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all best known as exoteric traditions, each with the full array of formal worship, religious law, sacred books, and codes of morality.

    Commonweal Magazine

  • Strauss proudly believed in writing at two levels, the "exoteric", which itself would be the layer which contained his own lies, while the deeper truths were to be gleaned by not ignoring any single hinted-at interruption.

    Conservatives Lie

  • The same piece encouraged a leading Jungian to sermonize in rotund eighteenth-century style on the esoteric, as opposed to the exoteric, meaning of the Sea-God Manannan's Crane Bag.

    The Crane Bag

  • /S/a@nkara is anxious again and again to point out at length, viz. that the greater part of the work contains a kind of exoteric doctrine only, ever tending to mislead the student who does not keep in view what its nature is.

    The Vedanta-Sutras with the Commentary by Sankaracarya Sacred Books of the East, Volume 1

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