Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective aes·thet·ic \es-ˈthe-tik, is-, British usually ēs-\\-ti-kəl\

Simple Definition of aesthetic

  • : of or relating to art or beauty

Full Definition of aesthetic

  1. 1 a :  of, relating to, or dealing with aesthetics or the beautiful <aesthetic theories> b :  artistic <a work of aesthetic value> c :  pleasing in appearance :  attractive <easy-to-use keyboards, clear graphics, and other ergonomic and aesthetic features — Mark Mehler>

  2. 2 :  appreciative of, responsive to, or zealous about the beautiful; also :  responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses

aes·thet·i·cal·lyplay also es·thet·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of aesthetic

  1. My generation has an annoying penchant for treating luxuries as necessities and turning guilty pleasures into aesthetic and even moral touchstones. —Terrence Rafferty, GQ, October 1997

  2. Whereas the essence of Proust's aesthetic position was contained in the deceptively simple yet momentous assertion that “a picture's beauty does not depend on the things portrayed in it.” —Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life, 1997

  3. I suppose that jazz listening and prizefight watching are my two most passionate avocations, and this is largely so because the origins of my aesthetic urges are in the black working class. —Gerald Early, “The Passing of Jazz's Old Guard: …”, in The Best American Essays 1986, Elizabeth Hardwick & Robert Atwan, editors, 1986

  4. There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for planting trees.

  5. making aesthetic improvements to the building

Variants of aesthetic

also es·thet·ic play \es-ˈthe-tik, is-, British usually ēs-\ or aes·thet·i·cal or es·thet·i·cal play \-ti-kəl\

Origin of aesthetic

German ästhetisch, from New Latin aestheticus, from Greek aisthētikos of sense perception, from aisthanesthai to perceive — more at audible

First Known Use: 1798

Other Fine Arts Terms



noun aes·thet·ic \es-ˈthe-tik, is-, British usually ēs-\

Simple Definition of aesthetic

  • : a set of ideas or opinions about beauty or art

  • aesthetics : the study of beauty especially in art and literature

  • : the artistic or beautiful qualities of something

Full Definition of aesthetic

  1. 1 plural but sing or plural in constr :  a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty

  2. 2 :  a particular theory or conception of beauty or art :  a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight <modernist aesthetics> <staging new ballets which reflected the aesthetic of the new nation — Mary Clarke & Clement Crisp>

  3. 3 plural :  a pleasing appearance or effect :  beauty <appreciated the aesthetics of the gemstones>

Examples of aesthetic

  1. Aesthetics is an important part of Greek philosophy.

  2. the aesthetics of the gemstones

Variants of aesthetic

also es·thet·ic play \es-ˈthe-tik, is-, British usually ēs-\

Origin of aesthetic

(see 1aesthetic)

First Known Use: 1822

Other Fine Arts Terms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up aesthetic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 5, 2016

bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet pince-nez spindrift kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.