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 esthetical (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 esthetics (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

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Other Words from aesthetic

Adjective

aesthetically or less commonly esthetically \ es-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce esthetically (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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The aesthetic is Dungeons and Dragons meets ’80s minivans; Pixar trying out anything new is encouraging after its recent run of sequels. David Sims, The Atlantic, "25 Movies to Look Forward to in 2020," 7 Jan. 2020 The aesthetic is somehow bland and weird: sashcapes and muumuucore, columns next to sofa circles. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Revenge of the Sith," 3 Dec. 2019 The Wing’s glossy aesthetic is a new addition to a recent crop of clubs springing up in London, reinventing the concept of the traditional gentlemen’s club. Suyin Haynes, Time, "The Wing Is Opening Its First International Space in London. Here's What's Behind the Revival of the City's Private Members' Clubs," 22 Oct. 2019 The interior aesthetic is similar to the flagship Brenda’s French Soul Food, with its red and black color scheme and merchandise wall selling jam and mugs. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "5 things to know about Brenda’s, a French and Creole outpost coming to Oakland," 1 Oct. 2019 My aesthetic is pretty much the opposite of minimalism. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Why You Should Wallpaper Inside Your Cabinets Immediately," 18 Sep. 2019 In Paul’s case, a bookshelf in the dining room was used to openly store attractive platters and kitchen accessories that not only work with the overall aesthetic, but are also within easy reach when entertaining. Bebe Howorth, ELLE Decor, "Would You Leave New York City for These Stunning Miami Views?," 16 Dec. 2019 Even the abstracted spaces that obscure most of the board fit the overall aesthetic. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Unmatched: Battle of Legends," 14 Dec. 2019 This is the music of advanced-level misanthropy, with the fierce technical skills to craft a lacerating musical landscape to match the stomach-churning aesthetic. John Adamian, courant.com, "Morbid Angel, death metal pioneer, at the Webster," 6 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The throwback piece had a resurgence back in 2008, at the height of Blair Waldorf’s queen-bee aesthetic. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "The Celeb-Approved Guide to Wearing a Headband Without Looking Like a Child," 17 Jan. 2020 The academy at Buchtel already exists and offers students classes in aesthetics and cosmetology; commercial and residential construction and masonry; and entrepreneurship, business and marketing. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Huntington Bank, Akron Public Schools partner for business, design academy at Buchtel CLC," 16 Jan. 2020 Luthiers favor maple for the body and neck for its ideal mix of strength, resonance, and aesthetics. Chuck Squatriglia, Popular Science, "Inside the extraordinary experiment to save the Stradivarius sound," 10 Jan. 2020 The aesthetics are basically identical: Both rely on character actors decked out in chunky exploration suits, fumbling their way through postindustrial corridors while contending with loudly bleeping alerts from stern computer voices. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Underwater Entertains but Doesn’t Have Much Depth," 9 Jan. 2020 In previous research, ILC found many of those surveyed felt products targeted at older people didn’t take aesthetics into account. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Fashion’s obsession with youth could cost it billions," 8 Jan. 2020 In a fashion industry that loves to celebrate European aesthetics, African fashion, which provides the same chic and colorful essence is hardly celebrated. Nandi Howard, Essence, "The Folklore Is The Online Shop Of Your Dreams," 2 Dec. 2019 Katie, who identifies as a lesbian, has worked for various magazines and companies, and for the past the three years she’s been styling and working to develop a personal kitsch aesthetic, which often includes heavily themed editorials. Sara Radin, Teen Vogue, "@DykeDigital Is the Instagram Account Producing High-Fashion Content for Lesbians," 14 June 2019 From its front buttoning, to its sleeveless style, to its fitted shape, both the Maggie Marilyn dress, and the Grace Wales Bonner look, share a similar aesthetic: Meghan has also worn trench dresses in other colors. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Is Obsessed with Trench Coat Dresses and So Are We," 8 May 2019

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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Time Traveler for aesthetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

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Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

adjective
How to pronounce aesthetic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty

aesthetic

noun
How to pronounce aesthetic (audio)

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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