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 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

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from aesthetic

Adjective

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

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Again is another nostalgic bid to deny cultural progress and trap the country in a mythical past of aesthetic uniformity. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The momentum behind Biden's climate ambitions," 22 Dec. 2020 So, the scalp serves both a functional purpose as well as an aesthetic one. Julie Ricevuto, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: The Complete Guide to Scalp Care," 17 Dec. 2020 Today, many streetwear labels are capitalizing on hockey’s rich aesthetic history and making their own fashion-leaning jerseys. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "How Nostalgia (and Snoop Dogg) Sparked a Retro Hockey-Jersey Craze," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The group, formed in 1975 in New York City, helped to pioneer new wave by blending elements of punk, rock, art pop, funk, and world music with an avant-garde aesthetic. Paul Grein, Billboard, "Selena, Salt-N-Pepa Among Recording Academy’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients," 22 Dec. 2020 His salt-and-pepper hair, combed forward and side-parted, juts from his head — an echo of a 1950s childhood and an aesthetic forged by that era. Washington Post, "Bill Barr was a disdainful block of gray," 15 Dec. 2020 Kelly’s style is outrageous yet approachable, which is an aesthetic that speaks to me. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Christian Siriano Shares the Easiest Way to Look Stylish on Your Next Zoom Call," 8 Dec. 2020 Combining an international aesthetic with local materials offers a blend of influences rarely seen elsewhere. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, "Orior’s New Furniture Collection Is a Lesson in Irish Craftsmanship," 7 Dec. 2020 The result is crunchy, earthy, nutty and unexpected, an aesthetic that carries over to Bichos ($12), a collection of scorpions, worms and grasshoppers served with guacamole. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Three new San Antonio restaurants — Camp Outpost Co., Cuishe Cocina Mexicana and Kumo bringing special food, like insects, to S.A.," 12 Nov. 2020 Couple that ethical approach with an aesthetic that prioritizes softness and ease, and Matin is a label that feels right for this moment. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Meet the Designers Behind Matin, the Australian Label That Counts Margot Robbie as a Fan," 5 Nov. 2020 And yet, what worries me the most about nostalgia as an aesthetic is its potential to shut out new or unexpected works in the name of authenticity or faithfulness to the original. Peter Hartlaub, SFChronicle.com, "Comfort food is reigning in the Bay Area. Is it good for dining culture as a whole?," 29 Oct. 2020 But with the help of a small glam team, showrunner Misha Green created an aesthetic to fit each of the show's personalities. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "How Lovecraft Country Got '50s Beauty So Right," 17 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aesthetic

Time Traveler for aesthetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

See more words from the same year

Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

27 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on aesthetic

What made you want to look up aesthetic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!