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From Latin reconditus (hidden, concealed), past participle of recondō (to put back, to reëstablish; to put away, to hide), from re- (again) + condō (to build, to form; to store; to conceal)



recondite (comparative more recondite, superlative most recondite)

  1. (of areas of study and literature) Difficult, obscure; particularly:
    1. Abstruse, profound, difficult to grasp
      • 1619, John Bainbridge, Astronomicall description of the late comet, 42
        I hope this new Messenger from Heauen doth bring happie tidings of some munificent and liberall Patron... by whose gracious bountie the most recondite mysteries of this abstruse and diuine science shall at length be manifested.
      • ante 1894, Robert Louis Stevenson, Amateur Emigrant (1895), 40
        Humanly speaking, it is a more important matter to play the fiddle, even badly, than to write huge works upon recondite subjects.
    2. Esoteric, little known; secret
      • 1644, John Bulwer, Chirologia: or The naturall language of the hand. Whereunto is added Chironomic or the Art of manuall rhetoricke, 137
        There was in the man much learning, and that of the more inward & recondit, a great Antiquary, and one that had a certain large possession of Divine and Humane Lawes.
      • 1722, F. Lee, Epistolary Discourses, 41
        The Apostle Paul had taken up many things out of these Recondite and Apocryphal Writings.
      • 1817, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, I. iii. 65
        [Of Southey:] I look in vain for any writer who has conveyed so much information, from so many and such recondite sources.
      • 1849, Herman Melville, Mardi: and A Voyage Thither, II. §67
        But I beseech thee, wise Doxodox! instruct me in thy dialectics, that I may embrace thy more recondite lore.
      • 1921, Joseph Conrad, Secret Agent, Preface in Works, VIII. page xvii
        Suggestions for certain personages... came from various sources which... some reader may have recognized. They are not very recondite.
      • 1948, William Somerset Maugham, Catalina, xv. 83
        He was never at a loss for a recondite allusion.
      • 1992 Autumn, American Scholar, 576/1
        It was hardly foreordained that a poor orphan from darkest Brittany... working in the recondite realms of Semitic philology, should play such a role in his time.
      • 2004, Alexander McCall Smith, Sunday Philosophy Club, xxi. 224
        While oenophiles resorted to recondite adjectives, whisky [sic] nosers spoke the language of everyday life.
    3. (of writers) Deliberately obscure; employing abstruse or esoteric allusions or references
      • 1788, Vicesimus Knox, Winter Evenings, II. v. i. 109
        They afford a lesson to the modern metaphysical and recondite writers not to overvalue their works.
      • 1817, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia literaria; or, Biographical sketches of my literary life and opinions, II. xxii. 172
        In the play of fancy, Wordsworth, to my feelings, is not always graceful and sometimes recondite.
      • 2004 Autumn, American Scholar, 129
        The voices of recondite writers quoted at length, forgotten storytellers weaving narratives, obscure scholars savaging one another.
    4. (of scholars) Learned, having mastery over one's field, including its esoteric minutiae
      • 1836, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, "Sir Thomas Browne" in The Critical and Miscellaneous Writings of Sir Edward Lytton (1841), II, 41
        It is delightful to see this recondite scholar — this contemplative and refining dreamer — in the centre of his happy nor unworthy household.
      • 1891, George T. Ferris, The Great German Composers
        [Of J.S. Bach]: Our musician rapidly became known far and wide throughout the musical centres of Germany as a learned and recondite composer.
      • 1998, Gene H. Bell-Villada, Art for Art's Sake & Literary Life, 1
        Cousin's lectures take their initial cue from the weighty treatises of a remote, recondite thinker named Immanuel Kant.
  2. (as a general term, somewhat archaic ; as a term in botany and entomology, obscure, rare) Hidden or removed from view
    • 1649, John Bulwer, Pathomyotomia, ii. ii. 108
      The Eye is somewhat recondit betweene its Orbite.
    • 1796, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Letters, I. 209
      My recondite eye sits distent quaintly behind the flesh-hill, and looks as little as a tomtit's.
    • 1823, Charles Lamb, Old Benchers in Elia, 190
      The young urchins,... not being able to guess at its recondite machinery, were almost tempted to hail the wondrous work as magic.
    • 1825, Thomas Say, Say's Entomol., Glossary, 28
      Recondite, (aculeus) concealed within the abdomen, seldom exposed to view.
    • 1857, Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, §21
      How such a man should suppose himself unwell without reason, you may think strange. But I have found nothing the matter with him. He may have some deep-seated recondite complaint. I can't say. I only say, that at present I have not found it out.
    • 1887, Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Canoe Speaks" in Underwoods
      ...following the recondite brook,
      Sudden upon this scene I look,
      And light with unfamiliar face
      On chaste Diana's bathing-place
    • 2002, Nick Tosches, In the Hand of Dante, 253
      Silent calligraphy sounds that were like those of the sweet fluent water of a recondite stream.
  3. (zoology, rare) Shy, avoiding notice (particularly human notice)
    • 1835, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 125, 361
      Animals of this class are so recondite in their habits... so little known to naturalists beyond the more common species.



recondite (third-person singular simple present recondites, present participle reconditing, simple past and past participle recondited)

  1. (rare, transitive) to hide, cover up, conceal
    • 1578, John Banister, The History of Man, i. f. 32
      Tendons: recondited, and hidde in their Muscle, as if they were in a purse imposed.


  • Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "recondite, adj." and "v." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2009.
  • recondite at OneLook Dictionary Search







  1. second-person plural present active imperative of recondō