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

Preyer and Shambaugh, though, had doubled down on that aesthetic, coaxing out as much of the space’s diner-like character as possible while mixing in modern, urbane flourishes. Alexandra Hall, BostonGlobe.com, "At the heart of Woodfords Corner’s revival is this: ‘You don’t get very many opportunities in life to do what you really believe in’," 26 June 2018 While Versace is famous for its over-the-top glitz and signature Italian glamour, Kors is the antithesis of that aesthetic, with a focus on affordable luxury and all-American ready-to-wear collections. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Michael Kors Is Reportedly Close to Buying Versace for $2 Billion," 24 Sep. 2018 To create this aesthetic, a lash curler surprisingly isn't involved. Devon Abelman, Allure, "These Are the Biggest Makeup Trends in South Korea in 2019," 8 May 2019 Interior design styles run the gamut from coastal to mid-century modern, but there's one aesthetic that's just as worthy of attention: Art Nouveau. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "Here's Everything You Need to Know About Art Nouveau Design," 28 Mar. 2019 Made of untreated solid pine, the line works well with a more relaxed design aesthetic, like bohemian or country casual. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "Pantry," 11 Feb. 2019 The end result was a collection that remained true to Valentino's aesthetic while paying homage to Japanese culture—something other fashion brands could learn from when staging their runways in other countries. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Valentino Made It Rain Rose Petals At Its Pre-Fall 2019 Show in Tokyo," 27 Nov. 2018 Though the building is faithful to the shipping container aesthetic, all of the units have slanted cut-outs, which, besides serving as very cool angular windows, create a chevron pattern that manifests across the building’s facade. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Striking apartment building is made up of 140 shipping containers," 12 Nov. 2018 There are sporting, aesthetic, and even moral distinctions to untangle. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "The Elusive Underdog Magic of the World Cup," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Upstairs, on the ever-popular, sprawling rooftop bar, more games — a giant Connect Four and giant Jenga — have been added, but the aesthetic is mostly the same. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "Ox Cart’s new format offers playful food, sweet drinks and a good time," 6 June 2019 The Leopard Room’s anything-goes aesthetic is just one sign that this hotel is of a different stripe. Lori Rackl, chicagotribune.com, "Milwaukee's new Saint Kate arts hotel has a theater troupe, museum gallery and a room full of leopard spots," 4 June 2019 But now, there’s a new duo throwing their hat into the ring: Paris Jackson and her musician boyfriend Gabriel Glenn whose groovy aesthetic is like no other. Vogue, "Paris Jackson and Her New Boyfriend Are Fashion’s Grooviest New Couple," 23 May 2019 Creating a timeless aesthetic was really important. Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler, "Innovators: How Indré Rockefeller, Co-Founder of Paravel, Made Luggage Romantic Again," 19 Sep. 2018 Outside of the show, her love of layered eclecticism translates into bold, soulful interiors, which reflect an elevated aesthetic that is equally comfortable and warm. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "See the Dramatic Reveal from the Best Room Wins Series Premiere," 2 May 2019 Of course, the three concepts are about more than just aesthetics. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Here’s what Formula 1 cars may look like in 2021 if the sport gets its way," 14 Sep. 2018 In many workshops, efficiency rather than high-minded aesthetics often governed decisions about how projects were divvied up. Brenda Cronin, WSJ, "Leonardo in an Art Workshop: The Boy Most Likely to Succeed," 15 June 2018 More than aesthetics, these crowns are symbols of honor and holding your head high. Lindsay Peoples, The Cut, "Church Mothers On the Joy of an Easter Hat," 30 Mar. 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.

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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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