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 \ es-​ˈthe-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) , is-​ , British usually  ēs-​ \

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\ es-​ˈthe-​tiks How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) , is-​ , British usually  ēs-​ \ 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

Other Words from aesthetic

Adjective

aesthetically or less commonly esthetically \ es-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce aesthetic (audio) , is-​ , British usually  ēs-​ \ 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 Its applications are not just aesthetic but also moral. Julius Taranto, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2022 Nothing about it is supposed to be perceived as au natural — which tends to be the usual K-beauty makeup aesthetic. Devon Abelman, Allure, 1 Sep. 2022 Unlike the spruce beetle, another destructive Alaska insect which has been responsible for killing spruce trees all around Southcentral Alaska, the leafminer damage is aesthetic. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Aug. 2022 If the first Batsheva x Laura Ashley collection was all about a sophisticated, moodier aesthetic for fall, then this one is a celebration of spring, light, and color. Kristen Bateman, Vogue, 16 May 2022 All the things that can help continue that story and that design aesthetic. Natalia Senanayake, Peoplemag, 29 Aug. 2022 Her aesthetic speaks to that same energy as Doechii. Essence, 29 Aug. 2022 Jennifer Lopez Affleck is doubling down on her boho-chic Italian honeymoon aesthetic. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 29 Aug. 2022 Lavigne’s pining voice and attitude haven’t aged in the slightest — her personal and stage aesthetic included orange tips in her hair, and a shimmering mic stand covered in spikes — and the five-piece band matched their leader’s intensity. Piet Levy, Journal Sentinel, 2 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Spotted outside the Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program luncheon in New York City, the 43-year-old actor wore an ensemble emblematic of the casual-cool aesthetic that she’s become known for. Alex Kessler, Vogue, 21 Sep. 2022 And the tactile, handmade look of Gohar World is an emphatic rejection of the sleekly anonymous and tech-inflected millennial aesthetic that has dominated consumer goods in recent years. Molly Fischer, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 Sometimes, picking the right pet leash is way more than a simple choice of aesthetic and color. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 19 Sep. 2022 Ortiz could rightly be considered a founder of the Indigenous futurism aesthetic which has become widely prominent across Native American cultural production. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 26 Aug. 2022 Horgan found her version of the film's wild aesthetic by setting her series in Ireland. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, 19 Aug. 2022 Shop five far-ranging pillars of the mermaid aesthetic below—to wear for the end of summer or to save until the next. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Aug. 2022 The angled ceilings, horizontal lines, prairie stained glass window panes and open living spaces will bring joy to any enthusiast of the mid-century aesthetic. Brianna Griff, Chron, 7 Aug. 2022 Porch railings supply an integral part of a home's exterior aesthetic, helping to reinforce a home's style. Sheryl Geerts, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About aesthetic

Time Traveler for aesthetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

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Dictionary Entries Near aesthetic

aesthete

aesthetic

aesthetic distance

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Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for aesthetic

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

More from Merriam-Webster on aesthetic

Nglish: Translation of aesthetic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of aesthetic for Arabic Speakers

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