In some cults or religions only the upper echelons are allowed to use a particular parlance, usually arcane, sometimes truly ancient and long since dead.

Spanish, French and Italian have fairly satisfactory adjectives for such a language, respectively "iniciático", "initiatique" and "iniziatico" (close relatives). German uses somewhat less efficiently the prefix "Initiations-".

The closest term I could find in English so far is "initiatory", whose definition though seems to diverge slightly from the meaning I'm looking for, allegedly referring to something leading to the initiation rather than something you achieve only once you become an Adept.

Can anyone suggest a better word?

  • 2
    There's a Wikipedia article on Sacred Language that suggests using that term, or perhaps Ritual Language - that might be what you're looking for.
    – Charl E
    Feb 9 '17 at 13:47
  • Thank you Charl E, that comes much closer to my target than I dared hope. Even though it doesn't contain the magic root "initiat-" it would make a perfectly good answer.
    – user218421
    Feb 9 '17 at 14:01

How about esoteric?

Senses 1.a and 2.b seem to be pertinent to what you wish to express.

1a : designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone

2b : private, confidential


  • Not everyone will want to follow a link for the definitions. Can you post 1a and 2b into your answer?
    – Hank
    Feb 9 '17 at 16:48
  • I like "esoteric" too, but it would stifle the religious connotation by shifting the meaning towards a mild lay fanaticism.
    – user218421
    Feb 9 '17 at 17:09
  • OK, took note for next time. Looks like Cascabel already added this info to this post. (Thanks, Cascabel) Feb 10 '17 at 9:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy