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 Created by artist Naima Green, not only will these cards make any game night all the more aesthetic, but supporting underserved and underrepresented creators is a gift in and of itself. Teen Vogue, "What Teen Vogue Editors Are Gifting This Holiday Season," 15 Nov. 2019 The galactic glamour of Afrofuturism may reign over Janelle Monáe’s aesthetic, but the principles that compel her have always been of this world. Briana Younger, The New Yorker, "Janelle Monáe on Privilege and Survival," 14 Nov. 2019 So, with the Vatican, there’s no sense of the beauty, no sense of aesthetic, no sense of harmony. Nick Romano, EW.com, "A brief visual history of bowl cuts in movies," 1 Nov. 2019 Much of the music reflects an aesthetic for the muscular and eccentric familiar to Homme followers, but with left turns that come from first-time collaborations. Los Angeles Times, "After 16 years, Josh Homme rekindles the ‘Desert Sessions’: ‘This will outlast everything I do’," 23 Oct. 2019 Elysian is a small chain that roasts its own coffee, with cafés that have a consistent, pleasantly minimalist aesthetic, in some of the most convenient locations around the city. Chris Morocco, Bon Appétit, "A Coffee-Obsessive’s Guide to Drinking the Best Coffee in Vancouver," 7 Nov. 2019 His aesthetic, described as dark romanticism, influences everything from his avant-garde designs to his ready-to-wear clothing. EW.com, "Project Runway season 18 exclusive first look: Meet the new designers, celebrity guests Leslie Jones, Kiernan Shipka, more," 9 Oct. 2019 The cream and burnt red floor-length boatneck satin gown featuring gold embroidery, sequins, beading and lion head metal medallion hardware has a medieval aesthetic, fitting for a knight. Emily J. Sullivan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Gwendoline Christie Surprises in Gucci "Jesus" Gown," 23 Sep. 2019 Much like Virgil Abloh’s aesthetic, his drops are given little to no lead time. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Off-White x Undercover Are Dropping A Capsule Collection This Weekend," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This latest creation was a vampy black lace design, with a floor-length hem, long sleeves, and a sweetheart neckline (a departure for the Duchess, as the look’s darkly romantic undertone sits outside her usual aesthetic). Vogue, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Do Date Night Style—The Royal Way," 18 Nov. 2019 The series art was noteworthy for its unique aesthetic, drawn almost entirely in black and white, with occasional bright splashes of color (red, yellow, blue, or pink) to highlight certain characters. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Frank Miller inks deal for a Sin City TV series based on his neo-noir comics," 16 Nov. 2019 There was a little of that here, with solo sections showcasing Deboo and Rajagopalan — each extraordinary, captivating performers — in their respective aesthetics, plus longer sections of Bharatanatyam performed by five Natya dancers. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, "Review: Natya Dance’s world premiere ‘Inai’ asks, what if there were no differences, racial or otherwise?," 8 Nov. 2019 Siegel and other women praise their favorite aesthetics bars with an abundance of enthusiasm. Sarah Wu, Glamour, "The Rise of the ‘Botox Bar’," 30 Oct. 2019 The bar was beloved by some in the local community for its blue collar aesthetics reflecting its history. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco’s oldest black-owned bar, Sam Jordan’s, will close Nov. 2," 18 Oct. 2019 Based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club is known for its gritty aesthetics, manifesto-esque narration, and Brad Pitt’s bloody and shirtless fight scenes — cigarette, anyone? Emily J. Sullivan, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Cast of 'Fight Club,' Then and Now," 15 Oct. 2019 McCray hopes to showcase his unique aesthetic through his strong pattern making, sewing, and construction skills. EW.com, "Project Runway season 18 exclusive first look: Meet the new designers, celebrity guests Leslie Jones, Kiernan Shipka, more," 9 Oct. 2019 The only thing more impressive than Gardner Minshew II’s stat lines is his aesthetic. Charlotte Wilder, SI.com, "The Magic of Gardner Minshew," 25 Sep. 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

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetical. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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