aesthetic

adjective
aes·​thet·​ic | \ es-ˈthe-tik , is-, British usually ēs-\
variants: also US esthetic or aesthetical or US esthetical \ -​ti-​kəl \

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 , is-, British usually ēs-\
variants: or less commonly esthetic

Definition of aesthetic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 aesthetics also esthetics 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 \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ 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

Despite his success, Halston, a new documentary premiering at Sundance, suggests that, to his detriment, the designer was way, way ahead of his time with innovations, both aesthetic and and corporate, that the fashion world was not ready to accept. Vogue, "Watch an Exclusive Clip of Halston Before Its Sundance Premiere—And Read What the Director and Producer Say About Its Making," 23 Jan. 2019 As the term has gained wider resonance, however, a few distinct parameters have emerged that more clearly align hopepunk with specific aesthetic and literary trends, and paint it as a counter to others. Aja Romano, Vox, "In the era of Trump and apocalyptic change, Hopepunk is a storytelling template for #resistance — and hanging onto your humanity at all costs.," 27 Dec. 2018 The trailer employs a decidedly '80s British new-wave aesthetic and introduces an up-and-coming video game company set to capitalize on the nation's early-'80s home-computing boom. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "“Change your future” tomorrow with choice-filled Black Mirror film on Netflix," 27 Dec. 2018 Find other influencers or brands that share your mission or aesthetic and partner up with them through cross-posts, takeovers, and joint photoshoots. Danielle Fox, Seventeen, "How to Become Instagram Famous," 24 July 2018 With this first episode, the inspiration for the living room came a bit from The Polo Bar aesthetic in New York City and a little bit by The Nomad Hotel. Lauren Sheffield, Harper's BAZAAR, "Watch a Design Expert Transform Her Dated Living Room Into a Sophisticated Putting Green," 19 July 2018 Brooks’s poetry and Simpson’s visual art—illuminates the aesthetic and thematic threads that connect the women’s creative pursuits. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Lorna Simpson Maps the Complex Galaxies of Black Women’s Hair," 10 June 2018 After testing, Silverman decided to use reishi, oyster, king oyster, and yellow oyster varieties for their superior aesthetic and strength. Kristen A. Schmitt, Smithsonian, "Are These Baked Mushroom Sandals the Future of Fashion?," 23 May 2018 She’s known for her modern farmhouse aesthetic and is drawn to the textile’s color saturation and graphic patterns. Sophia Markoulakis, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bold, artisanal Turkish rugs are in demand," 10 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Faucets If aesthetics are the driving force behind your kitchen redesign, pay extra attention to your faucet. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "Sinks," 11 Feb. 2019 Ever since the arrival of the iPhone, car designers have aspired to replicate that sleek, glassy aesthetic within the cabin. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Touchscreen Infotainment Systems in New Cars Are a Distracting Mess," 7 Feb. 2019 Much like hip-hop music, which itself has Jamaican roots, style aesthetics are as much a part of dancehall culture as the music and dancing that goes with it. Sharine Taylor, Allure, "For These Dancehall Artists, Hair Is Just as Important as the Music," 27 Sep. 2018 James Poniewozik examines the president’s new fondness for video tweets: The aesthetics of the Rose Garden videos are more YouTube than NBC, unadorned by graphics or soundtrack. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Stop calling Facebook’s effort to fix itself an “arms race”," 14 Sep. 2018 Among these activities are lessons in astronomy, philosophy, art, dance, physiology, aesthetics. Tom Keogh, The Seattle Times, "Seattle Piano Institute draws students from around the world for piano and life lessons," 3 July 2018 Another great example of that cheap, early-2000s, Flash aesthetic in which Biz is on the hunt for that perfect break. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "Lil Skies' 'Lust' Continues a Tradition of Animated Hip-Hop Videos: Here Are 15 of the Best," 4 May 2018 All eight episodes of Sharp Objects were also directed by Big Little Liars' Jean-Marc Vallée, which explains the shows' similar aesthetics. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Amy Adams' New HBO Show Looks Like a Creepy Mix of 'Big Little Lies' and 'Gone Girl'," 23 Apr. 2018 But at the same time, tendencies to attribute all good things to the beautiful means that upkeep of one’s appearance becomes a matter of broader wellbeing, not just aesthetics. Harper's BAZAAR, "The Dangers of Parenting a Beautiful Daughter," 6 June 2017

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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Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

19 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aesthetic

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

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More Definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty

aesthetic

noun

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 \

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- \

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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