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

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 No matter who was at the helm in the history of the design house, Celine has always had a very specific aesthetic. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Celine Spring 2019 PFW Show Is Panned on Social Media," 29 Sep. 2018 Though he was billed primarily as a rapper, XXXTentacion also dabbled in genres like punk and emo, favoring a lo-fi aesthetic that came from recording at home instead of in professional studios. New York Times, "XXXTentacion Signed $10 Million Album Deal Before His Death," 8 July 2018 As a comic-book artist, Liefeld was drawn to a particularly masculine aesthetic: His characters were totemic, musclebound creations, all arms and torsos, their faces scored by dark lines to suggest constant internal anguish. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Dour Resurgence of Cable, Deadpool 2’s Anti-Hero," 23 May 2018 Meanwhile, much of Kanye West’s Yeezy collection for Adidas, with its Realtree cargo pants ($385), bomber jackets ($750), and Army-style lace-up boots ($445) is in line with a certain military aesthetic, though offered at a luxury price point. Max Berlinger, GQ, "Why Everyone Is Dressing Like They Shop at the Army Surplus Store," 18 May 2018 Despite having the same display as the S4, the Tab S5e has a more modern look, with rounded corners that give it a sleeker, more refined aesthetic. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "The ultra-thin Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has an OLED screen, Android Pie and no S Pen for $400," 15 Feb. 2019 The ease allows for different vertical heights as his professional (or aesthetic) needs change. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "The Walls of This Home Office Are Devilishly Functional," 31 Jan. 2019 The jumpsuits are bringing an entirely new element into Castillo’s own show, which, until now, has showcased her largely feminine aesthetic, and her signature evening wear and bridal gowns. Emily Deciccio, Fox News, "'Project Runway' star's NYFW show will reveal the Blue Man Group's new look," 31 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The threads running through the sleek new store is a kind of Miesian geometric monumentalism, an aesthetic composed of natural materials that's at once chic and austere. Charles Curkin, ELLE Decor, "Fashion brand Celine launches new store concept in New York City," 22 Feb. 2019 While ladylike blowouts and romantic half-updos are usually on the royal beauty menu for Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, today’s athletic activities warranted a different aesthetic. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Kate Middleton Takes a Sporty Page From Meghan Markle’s Beauty Playbook," 27 Feb. 2019 Donald Trump has created a political aesthetic of the middlebrow. Constance Grady, Vox, "What it means that we keep talking about America like it’s a TV show," 27 Dec. 2018 Blum’s trucks have a unique aesthetic — a simple vintage design with a modern twist evident in their floor-to-ceiling glass display cases. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "How a San Francisco doughnut shop got a part in the new Denzel Washington movie.," 28 Feb. 2018 Faucets If aesthetics are the driving force behind your kitchen redesign, pay extra attention to your faucet. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "Sinks," 11 Feb. 2019 Ever since the arrival of the iPhone, car designers have aspired to replicate that sleek, glassy aesthetic within the cabin. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Touchscreen Infotainment Systems in New Cars Are a Distracting Mess," 7 Feb. 2019 Much like hip-hop music, which itself has Jamaican roots, style aesthetics are as much a part of dancehall culture as the music and dancing that goes with it. Sharine Taylor, Allure, "For These Dancehall Artists, Hair Is Just as Important as the Music," 27 Sep. 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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Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

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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
: 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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