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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Ever since tying the knot in May, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have stepped out in ensembles that are youthful, yet elegant—an aesthetic that is expected of a royal couple. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Fashion-Forward Couples Who Dominated 2018," 29 Nov. 2018 Let the new Nutcracker and the Four Realms film coming out this November inspire your aesthetic and fill your home with the classic wooden character. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Christmas Tree Shops Just Released Its Holiday Decor and We Want Everything," 13 Oct. 2018 Starting at just $79 per room for the Lite package, Design Services gives you a survey to get an understanding for your aesthetic. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "Wayfair Just Launched an Online Interior Design Service That'll Change Your Life," 21 Sep. 2018 At first glance, one is captivated purely by its aesthetic. John F. Ross, Smithsonian, "The Visionary John Wesley Powell Had a Plan for Developing the West, But Nobody Listened," 3 July 2018 And yes, she’s embraced a new look -- this time, however, she’s found inspiration in her own skin which is why these days her aesthetic is more stripped back (her album cover is just her bare face). Gerrick D. Kennedy, latimes.com, "After a six-year hiatus, Christina Aguilera finds her 'Liberation'," 2 July 2018 Timberlake should have married that blend with his country-boy aesthetic for a more cohesive sound and a more compelling live experience. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Justin Timberlake pushes against the pop flash on Man of the Woods Tour," 24 May 2018 In a bold departure from her usual down-to-earth aesthetic on Today, the former First Daughter took a dramatic leap in the hair and makeup departments, opting for a deep red smoky eye and beachy waves. Southern Living, "Jenna Bush Hager Was Nearly Unrecognizable at the Met Gala—in a Good Way," 8 May 2018 Investing in fitness apparel that not only fits your exact aesthetic, but also your unique body is hugely important. Danielle Mcnally, Marie Claire, "Now You Can Create the Exact Workout Leggings of Your Dreams," 23 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While these cars are the most visually appealing, Parnelli Jones’s 1970 Ford Bronco shouldn’t be dismissed as less important just because of its aesthetics. WSJ, "‘Legends of Los Angeles: Southern California Race Cars and Their Builders’ Review: Beautiful Bodies, Beastly Engines," 26 Nov. 2018 To stand out from the crowd, Hive is leaning on its aesthetics and design. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Hive’s new Home View Outdoor security camera was designed by Yves Béhar," 29 Oct. 2018 Her understated, minimal aesthetic is underpinned by impeccable tailoring. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Will Princess Eugenie Wear a Stella McCartney Wedding Gown Down the Aisle Today?," 12 Oct. 2018 The verdict: Without even taking into consideration its scent, this White Barn candle is a favorite for its fall aesthetic. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "The 10 Most Popular Pumpkin Candles, Ranked," 9 Oct. 2018 Both series call the ascendant streamer home, are inspired by prolific, beloved authors, and were produced to be Emmys bait with their lush, cinematic aesthetics. refinery29.com, "Handmaid’s Tale," 13 July 2018 Outside of the menu, one of the most unique things about Besharam is its aesthetics. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Inside Besharam, now open for Gujarati dinner service," 31 May 2018 Radical in terms of its aesthetics: here, the gang concept blurs the lines between ballerina and thug, as was often the case in American musicals such as West Side Story. Abby Jones, Billboard, "Christine and the Queens Touch the Sky in Vibrant New 'Girlfriend' Video: Watch," 24 May 2018 Influencers run all their photos through a specific preset in order to cultivate a specific aesthetic and make their feed look cohesive. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook has a growing morale problem," 15 Nov. 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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Learn More about aesthetic

Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aesthetic

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

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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

aesthetics : 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

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