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

If flats are your aesthetic, this pair is the way to go. Brittany Loggins, NBC News, "Bon voyage! The 10 best airport-to-office shoes," 28 June 2019 Magic Leap is also making a broader argument that Nreal is copying its aesthetic. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Magic Leap sues Nreal for allegedly stealing AR glasses design," 18 June 2019 In addition to finding the perfect crimson lipstick to incorporate into her everyday look, Almandina enjoys pulling inspiration from the past to cultivate her own aesthetic. Dianca London Potts, SELF, "10 Goths of Color on Their Beauty Routines and the Power of Representation," 22 May 2019 Its aesthetic and branding mimic that of marathon, Spartan races, Tough Mudder events, and other weekend warrior tentpoles. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "E-Biking My Way Through New York's Five Boro Bike Tour," 9 May 2019 The subjects were told both works had the same market value to eliminate concerns that money might affect the aesthetic judgments. Tom Mashberg, New York Times, "Do You Like ‘Dogs Playing Poker’? Science Would Like to Know Why," 8 July 2018 Usually, a good critic can tell the difference between their reaction to a film that is due to personal taste and history and a reaction of aesthetic judgment. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The real reason we need more diversity in film criticism," 22 June 2018 There is also a certain aesthetic appeal to something beautiful, and bit outside the traditional box. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, "Couples are opting out of wedding cakes for more distinctive sweets.," 19 June 2019 This first modification on the river’s course, made nearly a century ago in Lake Itasca, was aesthetic. Tristan Baurick, nola.com, "The River’s Revenge: The Mississippi remains critical to our prosperity, but hostile to attempts to control it," 15 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Despite this cross-pollination, LeftTube’s aesthetic is far from monolithic. Shaan Amin, The New Republic, "Can the Left Win YouTube?," 2 July 2019 The upscale bohemian aesthetic was a nod to the spirit of the Woodstock music festival, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, and included a jean jacket airbrushed with images of Jimi Hendrix. Roxanne Robinson, The Hollywood Reporter, "Inside the Red Carpet-Ready Dior Spring Men's Show," 22 June 2019 The Tudor and Tudor-style aesthetic was so prevalent internationally for so many years, that the chances of you having been exposed to it is almost certainly 100 percent. Samantha Swenson, ELLE Decor, "What Is a Tudor-Style House? Here's Everything You Need To Know," 21 June 2019 The project that connected Broadway to the Bay Bridge, officially named State Route 480, was approved in the early 1950s, when aesthetics weren’t a priority in San Francisco. Peter Hartlaub, SFChronicle.com, "1958 photos of the Embarcadero Freeway: A double-decker mistake rises," 12 June 2019 An international circuit now exists for this aesthetic of vastness, using such cavernous venues as the Armory, Tate Modern, and the Jahrhunderthalle, in Bochum, Germany. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Karlheinz Stockhausen Composes the Cosmos," 17 June 2019 The exterior was built to reflect the bucolic aesthetics of Avalon; the front is designed in the Craftsman style and a side wall features freshly planted bougainvillea. Gustavo Arellano, latimes.com, "On Catalina Island, one of L.A.’s unofficial ‘food deserts’ parties over a humble Vons," 4 June 2019 The exterior was built to reflect the bucolic aesthetics of Avalon; the front is designed in the Craftsman style and a side wall features freshly planted bougainvillea. Gustavo Arellano, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Must Reads: On Catalina Island, one of L.A.’s unofficial ‘food deserts’ parties over a humble Vons," 4 June 2019 Johansson’s attraction to creating a collection that plays off the aesthetics of the NBA and MLB makes sense as there’s a sense of belonging, of achievement, that goes hand-in-hand with sports. Tatum Dooley, Teen Vogue, "Acne Studios Celebrates Game 1 of the NBA Finals With a New Collab," 30 May 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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