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 With her ethereal aesthetic, staggering performances and cerebral body of work that blends R&B and art-pop, the singer has charted a singular course for herself — and for the future of music. Emily J. Lordi Photographs By Liz Johnson Artur, New York Times, "FKA Twigs," 19 Oct. 2020 Especially for an accolade, like the Top 100, which is normally led by a singular person, one brain, and one set of values and aesthetic. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "Food awards are here to stay — even amid a pandemic. Here's how they can be improved," 12 Oct. 2020 The group's goal is to create a robust urban tree canopy in Plymouth to provide physical, aesthetic, recreational, and economic assets, according to its website. Detroit Free Press, "Metro Detroit nonprofits seek donations for shot at Gannett grants," 8 Oct. 2020 So get educated, islam is not an 'aesthetic' it’s a religion. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Rihanna apologizes to Muslim community for 'unintentionally offensive' song at fashion show," 7 Oct. 2020 The stylish furniture and home decor line's fall offerings just dropped on Walmart.com, and as to be expected, every item reflects Barrymore's vibrant, boho aesthetic. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, "Drew Barrymore's Flower Home Fall Collection Just Dropped on Walmart's Site," 22 Sep. 2020 The effortless glam feels especially fitting, as Swift has leaned hard into this fresh, simple beauty aesthetic in promoting her folklore album. Sarah Midkiff, refinery29.com, "Taylor Swift Did Her Own Hair For The ACMAs — & It Was So Country," 17 Sep. 2020 Most fashion brands have only recently incorporated extended sizing into their offerings, but QVC and HSN have been designing up to 3X — without comprising aesthetic, quality or affordability — since 1990. Hanna Flanagan, PEOPLE.com, "Model Hunter McGrady to Speak at QVC's First-Ever Size Inclusivity Virtual Summit," 10 Sep. 2020 Tihany Design created prototypes of easy-to-clean table partitions that can be tailored to a particular restaurant’s aesthetic. Andrew Sessa, Travel + Leisure, "How Airports, Hotels, and Restaurants Are Embracing the New Normal," 7 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Despite its distinctive shape, the Precept maintains a Scandinavian aesthetic. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Electric carmaker Polestar prepares to leave Volvo behind," 9 Oct. 2020 When the pair was approached by Locke about joining forces on a multi-property partnership, there was one part of the design brief that stood out—the concept of combining a Californian aesthetic while pushing the boundaries of typical London tropes. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, "This New Hotel in London Is a Totally Instagram-Worthy Place to Stay," 8 Oct. 2020 French designer Alexis Mabille turned up the classical dial this season for a more sophisticated aesthetic than usual -- both in the sumptuous silks and in the silhouettes. Thomas Adamson, Star Tribune, "Chloe holds an immersive Paris Fashion Week show," 1 Oct. 2020 This leafy garland from Martha Stewart is a great way to infuse your space with fall colors and foliage, and boasts darker tones for a moodier aesthetic. Madison Durham, USA TODAY, "20 bestselling pieces of fall decor you can buy at Macy's," 30 Sep. 2020 Topo Designs’ gear has a unique aesthetic, and this pack is a prime example of its geometric, pocket-heavy designs. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Travel Bags for Keeping Your Stuff Safe and Secure," 11 Sep. 2020 Briana Summers, a graphic designer based in Des Moines, created a modern bohemian aesthetic by including it throughout her home. Kristina Mcguirk, Better Homes & Gardens, "8 Rattan Furniture Finds that Show This Natural Material Isn't Just for Outdoors," 4 Sep. 2020 Lisa, Rosé, Jisoo, and Jennie all serve up a girly-meets-streetwear aesthetic that slays. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Selena Gomez Wore the Cutest Puma Romper In New BLACKPINK "Ice Cream" Music Video – Here's Where to Shop It," 28 Aug. 2020 The opening of a new flagship location in Portland is great news for lovers of both quality outdoor gear and for those who appreciate a clean Japanese aesthetic. Matt Bean, Sunset Magazine, "EXCLUSIVE: Get a Sneak Peek of the New Portland Headquarters of Cult Japanese Brand Snow Peak," 25 Aug. 2020

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

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 28 Oct. 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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