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


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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from aesthetic


aesthetically or less commonly esthetically \-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

The Singular (Or Plural) Art of Aesthetics


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


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


Aesthetics is an important part of Greek philosophy. the aesthetics of the gemstones
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

See the full look below: For those looking to copy Meghan's aesthetic, her $675 handbag is still available for purchase. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Chose an Appropriately Green Ensemble for Her Official Visit to Ireland," 10 July 2018 The aesthetic, look and feel of these new bras are exactly the same as ThirdLove’s other offerings. Time, "The Boss: Why I Decided to Create a Lingerie Company With 70 Bra Sizes," 22 June 2018 But this unique cloud packaging seems to follow in the lines of Grande's new aesthetic, and what she's been doing lately has obviously been working for her. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Ariana Grande Announces Brand-New Fragrance One Day After Engagement News," 12 June 2018 With a clean and simple aesthetic, Made By Design gives off a totally different vibe from Target's other brands like Hearth and Hand or Opalhouse. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "Target's New Home Line Is Simple And Perfect, And You're Going To Want It All," 7 June 2018 After all, Cyrus has gone through more than a few aesthetic transformations throughout her career., "Why Did Miley Cyrus Delete Her Instagram Posts? Fans Have A Few Theories," 14 July 2018 But the latter demonstrates an aesthetic problem with much of the food here that's at odds with the bright, white-tiled cheeriness of the room. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "At 3 Squares Diner there’s a dog that won’t bark," 12 July 2018 The couple’s Midcentury aesthetic ran like a thread through every element of the wedding, beginning with the invites by Goods Gang and paper goods by Jen Kay, with illustrations by Tabitha Hope. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Bridal Shop Owner Wore Five Different Dresses for her Palm Springs Wedding," 10 July 2018 Photos: Adrienne Grunwald for The Wall Street Journal(2) Mr. Snyder’s aesthetic has been informed not only by his relatives but also his work experience. Ray A. Smith, WSJ, "A ‘Modern Preppy’ Maestro Makes Peace With Streetwear," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After showing pieces that any lover of a dark leather and denim aesthetic could get behind, the show ended on a decidedly more sparkly note with models walking out in the finale covered in disco-ball silver paint. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Kaia Gerber Opens the Saint Laurent Spring 2019 Men's Show in NYC," 7 June 2018 These films can be ravishingly beautiful and maddeningly opaque, sometimes simultaneously, suggesting a personal aesthetic that isn't meant to be fully understood. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "L’Enfant Secret is so intimate it feels like a confession," 25 May 2018 In the small-but-mighty kitchen, Hughes incorporated subway tile and marble and brass accents for a classic aesthetic with a modern twist. Megan Stein,, "Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham Sells New York City Apartment for $825K: See Inside," 18 May 2018 Kanpai's original location is in the Third Ward, at 408 E. Chicago St. Jong Kim said the remodeling brought a contemporary aesthetic to the space that's similar to the Third Ward location. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kanpai 2 serving sushi in the former Izumi's space on Milwaukee's east side," 15 May 2018 The hotel, built in 1991, has a new owner, a new general manager and a new aesthetic. Susan Glaser,, "Downtown Cleveland's Marriott at Key Center gets a new owner, new look, restaurant and spa (photos)," 29 Apr. 2018 The office is apparently built with little, if no, insulation—which gives it a clean visual aesthetic of brick and metal beams. Danielle C. Belton, The Root, "Fast Company Offers Us Warm Wishes About Our Cold Offices," 21 Feb. 2018 Travelers who love people-watching and a cool-kid aesthetic should check into the Thompson (pictured), located in the heart of downtown and walking distance to the beach. Kristin Braswell, Sunset, "10 Best Trips to Mexico for Your Travel Personality," 22 Jan. 2018 The simpler the aesthetic, the more enchanting the staging. Charles Mcnulty,, "'The Tempest' at the Old Globe: Kate Burton casts a benevolent spell as Prospera," 26 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of aesthetic


1797, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aesthetic


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.


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

Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aesthetic

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for aesthetic



English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty



English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a set of ideas or opinions about beauty or art

aesthetics : the study of beauty especially in art and literature

: the artistic or beautiful qualities of something


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.


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

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).


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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