You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

In a word: recondite

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:


Last week, in writing about erudite, I used the word recondite. Perhaps it should have a turn.

It means “profound,” “abstruse,” “little known,” “obscure,” “beyond ordinary knowledge or understanding.” It is commonly used to identify someone’s particularly deep knowledge, often of an uncommon subject.

(No, I am not going to do abstruse next week.)

We have it from the Latin recondere, “to put back” or “to hide.”

Example: From Robert Kunzig, “Carnivore’s Dilemma,” in National Geographic, November 2014: “Defoar is a tall, slender man of 40, with a weathered face and a taste for explaining recondite things like ruminant nutrition—he has a Ph.D. in the subject from Texas Tech.”

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