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


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

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Other Words from aesthetic


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


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 side table comes in 13 pastel colors and natural wood finishes that embody the cottage aesthetic. Sanah Faroke, Better Homes & Gardens, "Shoppers Love This Gorgeous $42 Accent Table So Much They're Buying It in Multiple Colors," 23 Apr. 2021 The map is more than just re-skinning buildings to create an 80′s aesthetic. Washington Post, "New ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ map takes the player to Verdansk in 1984," 22 Apr. 2021 Cortez says customers love bolder looks with a luxurious yet unabashedly BDSM aesthetic. Leigh Cuen, Los Angeles Times, "What are you willing to wear on your next Zoom? Fetish fashion is on the rise," 12 Apr. 2021 The new iMac is expected to take design cues from the 2018 iPad Pro aesthetic with reduced bezels and flatter sides. Ewan Spence, Forbes, "Apple Loop: Unexpected iPhone 13 Details, Shock IOS Scam Warning, Massive iMac Surprise," 9 Apr. 2021 Their fans are fascinated by their 2000s aesthetic, complete with loads of mini skirts, feathery and meshed tops, and even Juicy Couture sweatsuits. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Sugar & Spice Are TikTok’s Favorite Drag Duo," 28 Mar. 2021 BSB Design partnered with the Mandel Group to create a modern farmhouse aesthetic for the development. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "An Oconomowoc development with over 300 apartment units is expected to open in April 2022," 26 Mar. 2021 That means creating a sleek New York look or a relaxed L.A. aesthetic in unexpected places. Alina Dizik, WSJ, "With Big Cities Out of Reach, Some Homeowners Opt for Long Distance Design," 25 Mar. 2021 Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the carrying bag also provides effective protection for your flying companion. Maren Estrada, BGR, "Last chance to get a 2K camera drone that folds up as small as a smartphone for just $70," 7 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And this performance, with its retro '70s rock aesthetic, truly rules. Andy Hoglund,, "Saturday Night Live recap: Daniel Kaluuya makes his hosting debut," 4 Apr. 2021 Coming back now, Schwab is looking at things completely differently: how allying Greece’s skills and history with a fresh design aesthetic can belong to the progressive new wave of people seeking authentic values in fashion. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "Marios Schwab, a Name From London’s Mid-Aughts Talent Boom, Has Returned to Athens—And His Greek Roots—With a New Collection," 25 Mar. 2021 In a vlog on her OnlyFans page, clad in a fembot-esque pink nightie and thigh-high white platform boots, Lucy, 19, takes a swipe at a piñata, which, in keeping with the zoomer baby-doll aesthetic, is Hello Kitty-themed. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, "How the Dream of a Porn- Content House Fell Apart," 23 Mar. 2021 Like his spiritual forefather Michael Bay, Snyder is a visionary action filmmaker who conceives blockbusters with an utterly original aesthetic and sensibility. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "Every DC Comics Movie, Ranked," 22 Mar. 2021 In fact, many prestigious luxury menswear brands (typically with a traditional aesthetic), have transformed their entire business trajectory to meet consumer demands. Joseph Deacetis, Forbes, "How Streetwear Sneakers Are Winning As The New Exclusivity," 10 Mar. 2021 The clean lines and precise forms were in line with the growing aesthetic of the Internationalist movement, already present in Russian Constructivism and soon to be popularized by the Bauhaus. Globe Staff,, "W.E.B. Du Bois showed us the power of data viz more than a century ago," 25 Feb. 2021 Across six 45-minute episodes, bucolic scenes of Maine’s harbors and farm stands combine with the rustic aesthetic of dining under the stars. Kendra Nordin Beato, The Christian Science Monitor, "Food shows offer all of the fun, none of the cleanup," 12 Apr. 2021 Largely designed by Vudafieri Saverino Partners, the flagship’s structure is made to resemble a real home and shares the aesthetic of Versace’s distinguished residences. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, "Versace’s New Home Décor Flagship in Milan Is an Interior Designer’s Paradise," 16 Apr. 2021

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


1797, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aesthetic


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.


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

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for aesthetic



English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty



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


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.


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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