For the past few months, I’ve been at a loss for word. Not words, but one very specific word. It refers to knowledge that would only be known by people in a specific group. One would use it thusly…

“The distinction between italic and oblique is obvious to a type designer, but is frankly a little too blank for everyone else.”

I really needed the word. But I couldn’t remember it.

I started asking people, smart people, if they could help me figure out the word. No one could.

I Googled “pertaining to a specific group.” I got page after page of words, but not the right one.

I was 90% sure the word started with ‘e.’ So I actually went through the dictionary, page by page, looking at every entry for the letter ‘e.’

But I couldn’t find it.

Then last week, while walking through an almost empty theatre, I heard someone say something magnificent: esoteric.

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

es•o•ter•ic (es-uh-ter-ik) adj. Intended for or understood by only a particular group: an esoteric cult. See synonyms at mysterious. Of or relating to that which is known by a restricted number of people. Confined to a small group: esoteric interests. Not publicly disclosed; confidential.

I have no idea what the person was talking about. I just heard that one word, and felt the relief of an agonizing itch being scratched. I immediately emailed myself the word, just in case.

Just today, I found a Reverse Dictionary Search site, which I’ve already bookmarked for the next word I can’t remember.