aesthetic

adjective
aes·​thet·​ic | \ es-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) , is-, British usually ēs-\
variants: also US esthetic or aesthetical or US esthetical \ -​ti-​kəl How to pronounce esthetical (audio) \

Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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 : appreciative of, responsive to, or zealous about the beautiful also : responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses his aesthetic sensibility
3 : done or made to improve a person's appearance or to correct defects in a person's appearance aesthetic plastic surgery

aesthetic

noun
aes·​thet·​ic | \ es-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) , is-, British usually ēs-\
variants: or less commonly esthetic

Definition of aesthetic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 aesthetics also esthetics plural in form but singular or plural in construction : a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty
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 aesthetics also esthetics plural : a pleasing appearance or effect : beauty appreciated the aesthetics of the gemstones

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Other Words from aesthetic

Adjective

aesthetically or less commonly esthetically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce esthetically (audio) \ adverb

The Singular (Or Plural) Art of Aesthetics

Noun

The noun aesthetic is often found used in its plural form. In the plural form, aesthetics can refer to the theory of art and beauty—and in particular the question of what makes something beautiful or interesting to regard:

Although he could extemporize animatedly about the history of the valve seat grinder, or the art of ropemaking, or how long it took to manually drill blast holes into a deposit of coal, aesthetics were another matter. The unlikely beauty of his rusty treasures defied elaboration.
Donovan Hohn, Harper’s, January 2005

This sense is sometimes encountered in constructions that treat it as singular:

With the removal of the studio packages, those cinema owners still providing double features began exploring less arbitrary and more justified pairings of films. The double feature became a special element of movie houses concentrating on the presentation of classic and art films. And this is where an aesthetics of the double feature emerges.
Chadwick Jenkins, PopMatters, 16 Aug. 2016

So Sontag was wrong to describe camp as an "unserious, 'aesthete's' vision." Aesthetics is always serious when agreed-upon interpretations are changed or stolen or emptied out.
Dave Hickey, Harper's, December 2009

A word that follows a similar pattern is poetics, (which also happens to be the title of a work by Aristotle focusing on literary theory and discourse):

A poetics of film, he has argued, seeks to reveal the conventions that films use to achieve their effects-and cognitive explanations provide insight into how and why filmic conventions, like shot-reverse-shot or empathy close-ups, produce the effects they do.
Alissa Quart, Lingua Franca, March 2000

As a plural noun, aesthetics can also be used as a synonym for beauty:

For reasons of economy and aesthetics, though, most of the house was stick built and is perfectly cozy without any elaborate beam work.
Andrew Vietze, Down East, May 2003

Examples of aesthetic in a Sentence

Adjective

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 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 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, editors1986 There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for planting trees. making aesthetic improvements to the building

Noun

Aesthetics is an important part of Greek philosophy. the aesthetics of the gemstones
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Just about every room can benefit from a combination of pricey and inexpensive pieces, regardless of its aesthetic. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "A Celebrity Home Stager Reveals the Art of Decorating," 7 Mar. 2019 Argento’s Suspiria used its aesthetic to celebrate a witchery that was inherently otherworldly and stylized, producing a rapturous symphony of violence for its own beautiful sake. Aja Romano, Vox, "How Suspiria turns the color red into a plot point," 9 Nov. 2018 The homeowner credits time spent working in New York City’s blue chip galleries as influential on his interior aesthetic. Samantha Weiss Hills, Curbed, "A micro cabin in Vermont offers an artist refuge," 15 Oct. 2018 Hunt, instead, was respectful of the inspirational melodies and homey lyrics that helped build his aesthetic, and the results were emotionally rich. A.d. Amorosi, Philly.com, "Country singer Sam Hunt rocks the Atlantic City beach, and inspires a proposal," 2 July 2018 Their aesthetic is rooted in uncomplicated lines and functional details, two qualities plenty of guys are seeking today. Matt Sebra, GQ, "Mansur Gavriel Is Finally Making Bags for Guys," 29 May 2018 One suspects that the Euro-cosmopolitanism of the clean Swiss lines and Univers type were not her preferred aesthetic. Christopher Bonanos, Daily Intelligencer, "That EPA Seal Scott Pruitt Hates? He Can Blame Neil Gorsuch’s Mother for It.," 11 Apr. 2018 Its pink and green aesthetic has that preppy-chic thing down, just waiting to be Instagram-ed. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Harbour Island is the Ultimate OG Fashion Destination," 12 Mar. 2019 Keep the focus on the food with a classic aesthetic and opt for traditional BODBYN cabinets in a warm grey. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "Your Style," 11 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

First, her consistent aesthetic: the one-time biotech entrepreneur was rarely seen wearing anything other than a black turtleneck, a look some claim was directly inspired by her obsession with Steve Jobs and his iconic uniform dressing. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Is Elizabeth Holmes's Deep Voice Just Another Part of Her Scam?," 18 Mar. 2019 Both are credited with helping revive the French fashion industry post-War, with varying aesthetics. Cecil Beaton, Vogue, "Gertrude Stein on Pierre Balmain’s 1945 Couture Debut—Plus, a Look Back at the Designer’s Best Looks in Vogue," 22 Jan. 2019 More details from the wedding: Miley got married in a flowy Vivienne Westwood dress that's perfect for her funky-yet-chic aesthetic. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus Confirm It: They Totally Got Married," 27 Dec. 2018 The interiors, honed with van Looij and the help of Graanmarkt’s artistic director, the scenographer Bob Verhelst, have the same spare aesthetic that reigns in the store. WSJ, "Focused on Sustainability, Graanmarkt 13 is a Go-To for Tastemakers," 10 Jan. 2019 The whole aesthetic of the book is more gossipy than that. refinery29.com, "The New Season Of You Must Remember This Explores Hollywood’s First Fake News Hoax," 9 July 2018 The Omen family will likely always have the traditional gamer aesthetic, but inching it more toward the Spectre family through thoughtful editing (without sacrificing performance, of course) can't hurt. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "HP Omen 15 laptop gets Nvidia Max-Q graphics, sleeker design with slim bezels," 30 May 2018 All of the fabrication in Black Panther needed to have the aesthetic of a superhero film. Faith Cummings, Teen Vogue, "Black Panther Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter on People Dressing Up to See the Movie," 22 Feb. 2018 While this look prizes ease above all else, there are a few tricks to deftly executing this style for both utility and aesthetics. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Modern Victorian Updos Are Taking Over Instagram—Here’s How to Do Them Right," 13 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aesthetic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aesthetic

Adjective

1797, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aesthetic

Adjective

borrowed from German ästhetisch "pertaining to taste or discernment," borrowed from New Latin aestheticus, borrowed from Greek aisthētikós "of sense perception, sensitive, perceptive," from aisthētós "sensible, perceptible" (verbal adjective of aisthánomai, aisthánesthai "to perceive, take notice of, understand," going back to *awis-th-, from *awis-, base of Greek aḯein "to perceive, hear" + -th-, resultative noun suffix) + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at audible entry 1

Note: German aesthetisch/ästhetisch (New Latin aestheticus) was initially promulgated as a philosophical term in the work of Alexander Baumgarten (1714-62) and subsequently by Immanuel Kant.

Noun

borrowed from German Ästhetik, borrowed from New Latin aesthetica, from feminine of aestheticus aesthetic entry 1 — more at -ics

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More Definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty

aesthetic

noun

English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a set of ideas or opinions about beauty or art
: the study of beauty especially in art and literature
: the artistic or beautiful qualities of something

aesthetic

adjective
aes·​thet·​ic | \ es-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) \

Kids Definition of aesthetic

: relating to beauty and what is beautiful They made aesthetic improvements to the building.

Other Words from aesthetic

aesthetically \ -​i-​kə-​lē \ adverb The garden has an aesthetically pleasing design.

aesthetic

adjective
aes·​thet·​ic | \ es-ˈthe-tik, British usually ēs- How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) \

Medical Definition of aesthetic

: done or made to improve a person's appearance or to correct defects in a person's appearance aesthetic plastic surgery Dentists are still drilling and filling, but the fastest growing part of the practices are aesthetic procedures, such as bleaching teeth and using tooth-colored material for fillings …— Sarah Skidmore, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2005

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Comments on aesthetic

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