aesthetic

adjective
aes·​thet·​ic | \ es-ˈthe-tik , is-, British usually ēs-\
variants: also US esthetic or aesthetical or US esthetical \ -​ti-​kəl \

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 , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from aesthetic

Adjective

aesthetically or less commonly esthetically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Bertolucci combines a flawless aesthetic with a deep emphasis on composition, design, and camerawork to slowly build a devastating portrait of the kind of personality that allows fascism to flourish. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist still resonates today," 3 Dec. 2018 Also, the all-plastic aesthetic might not appeal to everyone. Cnet.com, The Seattle Times, "The best smart technology to add to your patio this fall," 15 Oct. 2018 Her lips and skin were also kept dewy to match the overall aesthetic. Devon Abelman, Allure, "How to Get Tiffany Young's Stunning "Rosé Champagne" Makeup From Her New Music Video," 2 Oct. 2018 There are as many opinions out there about the proper glass from which to drink champagne as there are glasses themselves and the differences between them aren't purely aesthetic. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Everything You Need to Know About Brut Champagne," 21 Dec. 2018 The retro trend has also trickled into the craft of some modern artists, who use this larger-than-life aesthetic to navigate both critiques and evocations of the era’s familiar commercialism. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Modern Takes on 80s Artwork Hit Washington D.C. Streets," 23 Apr. 2018 The style itself originated—and came to be extremely popular—for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "This Is Why Millennials Love Mid-Century Modern Homes So Much," 7 Dec. 2018 The upstairs contains four bedrooms and three full bathrooms, all with a relaxed, summer cottage aesthetic. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Charming 1912 house on a private island asks $4.9M," 5 Dec. 2018 Nothing could happen from here and Prospect would still be worth watching for an hour-and-change of ambience and aesthetic alone. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Sci-fi stunner Prospect values small stories in a galaxy far, far away," 2 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The pieces all seem to fit: both shows feature shady witches, very moody aesthetics, and enough magic to keep viewers hooked. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, ""Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Clue Hints Sabrina Might Be Related to Madison Montgomery from "AHS"," 7 Nov. 2018 Wang pushes his students to think about aesthetics, even when the results are sometimes bizarre. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "The Aural Magic of Stanford's Laptop Orchestra," 8 June 2018 For all the attention to aesthetics, this show remains rooted in animal science. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "'Underwater Beauty' at the Shedd is like a fantasy snorkeling trip on dry land — and no upcharge," 21 May 2018 Like the main house, it’s done up in her California-casual aesthetic, with concrete floors and barn doors that open up to the garden. Jennifer Blaise Kramer, House Beautiful, "Victoria Pearson Doesn't Use Color In Her Home For A Fascinating Reason," 9 Jan. 2019 The ads are all Melodrama purple eyeshadow, red lips, and visible armpit hair, cool gal pals with punchy makeup and an accessible aesthetic. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "The absurd quest to make the “best” razor," 11 Dec. 2018 Allergan didn’t raise the price of many of its medical aesthetics brands, including blockbuster anti-wrinkle treatment Botox. Jared S. Hopkins, WSJ, "Drugmakers Raise Prices on Hundreds of Medicines," 1 Jan. 2019 The company’s casual-chic aesthetic helped America define its own design vernacular, one that didn’t involve copying what was trending in Paris. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "The Calvin Klein brand hired big-name fashion designer Raf Simons to build relevancy. Now he’s out.," 27 Dec. 2018 The mix-and-match aesthetic continues in 300 newly launching lifestyle products, which are designed for versatility. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "A Joanna Gaines Bedding Line Is Coming To Target The Day After Christmas," 22 Dec. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aesthetic

Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

5 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aesthetic

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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- \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on aesthetic

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

WORD OF THE DAY

esteemed in general opinion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!