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 It was imaginatively designed by the Dutch graphic artist Irma Boom to evoke Gray’s aesthetic, right down to the three-tone grisaille fore-edges in homage to her geometric rug patterns, and is now the indispensable reference work on the subject. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, "Eileen Gray’s Infinite Possibilities," 8 Sep. 2020 Instead, architecture should confront the urgent demands of the present, by practical and not aesthetic means. Michael J. Lewis, National Review, "The Death of Public Beauty," 3 Sep. 2020 But also, Blair's aesthetic and music tastes are ripped from the headlines of my teenage life. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "Teenage Bounty Hunters," 14 Aug. 2020 That aesthetic shines through in the crisp, California-dreaming visual, which finds each member getting his own chance to bust a move, eat a doughnut, or both. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Critics praise BTS' new song 'Dynamite' as 'uplifting' and 'infectious'," 21 Aug. 2020 For the first two episodes, the cards reflect the 1930s aesthetic, while the 1950s title cards are done in a film noir style. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes final bow with high-octane journey through time," 14 Aug. 2020 Each room is decked out in minimal, but still vintage Vegas aesthetic with plenty of room options, including standard rooms, bunk-bed rooms, and gigantic suites — some with their own dining tables and in-room wet bars. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "The First-ever Adults-only Casino in Vegas Will Have America’s Largest Pool Amphitheater," 26 June 2020 Her aesthetic blurs the line between news gatherers and this news spinner. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Kayleigh McEnany is the camera-perfect embodiment of Trump’s message: Everything is fine," 14 Aug. 2020 Campovida’s reclaimed wood-and-brick wine bar is warm, masculine even, befitting the neighborhood’s aesthetic. Tim Teichgraeber And Sara Schneider, SFChronicle.com, "Campovida: Mediterranean-style wines in a picture-perfect setting," 10 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For that reason, many hunters like to carry a classic, which can add to the challenge and to the aesthetic. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "The 11 Best Pronghorn Rifles," 4 Sep. 2020 Melanie is 50; Tony, 51 – but matches their aesthetic. Amber Hunt, The Enquirer, "Cold feet leads Amberley woman to cool truck: How the Book Bus was born," 4 Sep. 2020 Picnic backdrops are tantamount to the cottagecore aesthetic, and this outdoor blanket with its neutral stripes will blend beautifully into the background. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "What is cottagecore? Shop the latest teen trend," 28 Aug. 2020 In its own way, the D.N.C. was revolutionary in its understated aesthetic and its humble message. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Republican National Convention Was a Spectacle Fit for a Would-Be King," 28 Aug. 2020 Last February, in the throes of early-pandemic disquietude, Ms. Jimenez was inspired to emulate that retreat’s comfort, if not its aesthetic. Rachel Wolfe, WSJ, "This Retro Decorating Move Will Transform Your Bedroom—for $200 or Less," 27 Aug. 2020 Sir John, makeup artist to the stars, says he's seen a shift to a more natural aesthetic. Erika Stalder, refinery29.com, "Goodbye “Instagram Face” — Natural Beauty Is Making A Comeback," 21 Aug. 2020 Wild One has a particular aesthetic that is extremely simple yet feels quite stylish—especially in the social media age. Rachel King, Fortune, "Founder of pet care accessories line Wild One on remaking functional as fashionable," 10 Aug. 2020 The homey tasting room has a country-rustic aesthetic that’s perfectly enjoyable too. Bryce Wiatrak, SFChronicle.com, "DaVero: your destination for Italian-style wines and biodynamic farming," 15 May 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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Time Traveler for aesthetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

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Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

10 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 22 Sep. 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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Comments on aesthetic

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