what is the adjective to describe a very unique skill which is possessed by very few.

Esoteric is close. But not exactly right. I want to use it in the context of the ability to play a complicated classical guitar piece that not a lot of people can play.

Being able to play a complicated classical guitar piece would be "________ (adjective)" because very few number of people can physically do it ---- not sure what to use.

Esoteric is close but its context has more to do with "understanding a complicated topic/thing and discussing the complicated topic with a unique particular/professional group who takes special interest in the complicated topic"

Calling something "esoteric" is like saying "it's a subject not for lay-people"

but I want to describe a physical ability which is possessed by only a few -- would the physical ability be considered to be "esoteric?"

Any help appreciated, Thanks

  • Are you looking for an adjective to modify the word "skill", or to modify "playing"? If you include the exact sentence where you want to use the term, that will help us better understand what you want, and give you better answers.
    – 1006a
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:50
  • exceptional?
    – Lee Leon
    Apr 27, 2018 at 17:11

3 Answers 3


"esoteric" seems like a good fit to me. I can also suggest "arcane"

  • arcane - (adj) - "known or knowable only to a few people"

Example sentences:

"The language is almost always an agony of arcane jargon and clunky grammar. Long, tangled sentences, heavy with terms like “multivariate analyses,” are assembled to make small points."

"He had a reputation for being brilliant, controversial, passionate. I was struck by his uncanny ability to communicate arcane, complex economic policy and by his punk-rock instinct to question the status quo."

"Bob had no business building lobster neighborhoods. He’d been hired at the University of Maine as a marine ecologist in 1981 to study more arcane matters, like how long it took a sea urchin to eat a leaf of kelp."

If you're also looking for an adjective to describe a person who possesses those unique skills, I suggest "talented".

  • The word "arcane" is a better fit, for the reasons described in the OP's post (which are correct).
    – Alex
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:52

Being able to play a complicated classical guitar piece would be phenomenal because very few number of people can physically do it.



  1. Of, relating to, or constituting phenomena or a phenomenon.
  2. Extraordinary; outstanding:

You can use an idiom - belonging to a very small club.

It doesn't show up in the idiom dictionaries I checked, but it fairly well known.

Gene Cernan is a member of a very small club - men who have walked on the moon.

Tamer Elnoury is a member of a very small club: FBI undercover agents who are Muslim, speak Arabic and are willing to try to infiltrate suspected terrorist groups.

In addition, Hildegard is a member of a very small club--women composers.

Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is a member of a very small club: competent crisis-era financial regulators.

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