1

aesthetic

adjective aes·thet·ic \ es-ˈthe-tik , is- , British usually ēs- \
variants: also US esthetic or aesthetical or US esthetical play \-ti-kəl\
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of aesthetic

1 a :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

aesthetically

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

Examples of aesthetic in a Sentence

  1. My generation has an annoying penchant for treating luxuries as necessities and turning guilty pleasures into aesthetic and even moral touchstones. —Terrence RaffertyGQOctober 1997
  2. 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 BottonHow Proust Can Change Your Life1997
  3. 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
  4. There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for planting trees.

  5. making aesthetic improvements to the building

Recent Examples of aesthetic from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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 1-ic — more at 1audible
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.

aesthetic Synonyms

Synonyms
beautiful (also esthetic or aesthetical or esthetical), attractive, beauteous, bonny (also bonnie) [chiefly British], comely, cute, drop-dead, fair, fetching, good, good-looking, goodly, gorgeous, handsome, knockout, likely, lovely, lovesome, pretty, ravishing, seemly, sightly, stunning, taking, well-favored
Antonyms
grotesque, hideous, homely, ill-favored, plain, ugly, unaesthetic, unattractive, unbeautiful, uncomely, uncute, unhandsome, unlovely, unpleasing, unpretty, unsightly
Related Words
alluring, appealing, charming, cunning, delightful, engaging, fascinating, glamorous (also glamourous), prepossessing; elegant, exquisite, glorious, Junoesque, magnificent, resplendent, splendid, statuesque, sublime, superb; flawless, perfect, radiant; dainty, delicate; personable, pleasant, presentable; chocolate-box, prettyish; desirable, dishy, dollish, foxy, hot, luscious, nubile, pulchritudinous, seductive, sexy, tasty, toothsome, yummy; hunky, studly [slang]; arresting, eye-catching, flamboyant, flashy, glossy, showstopping, showy, slick, snazzy, splashy, striking, zingy; photogenic, telegenic
Near Antonyms
abhorrent, abominable, bad, disagreeable, disgusting, dreadful, foul, frightful, ghastly, horrible, loathsome, nasty, nauseating, objectionable, offensive, repellent (also repellant), repugnant, repulsive, revolting, shocking, sickening, terrible, vile; unappealing, unappetizing, unimposing, unpleasant, unprepossessing; frumpish, frumpy, unbecoming, unshapely; Gorgonian, haggish, witchy

Other Fine Arts Terms


2

aesthetic

noun aes·thet·ic \ es-ˈthe-tik , is- , British usually ēs- \
variants: or less commonly esthetic

Definition of aesthetic

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

Examples of aesthetic in a Sentence

  1. Aesthetics is an important part of Greek philosophy.

  2. the aesthetics of the gemstones

Recent Examples of aesthetic from the Web

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.

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

Origin and Etymology of aesthetic

borrowed from German Ästhetik, borrowed from New Latin aesthetica, from feminine of aestheticus 1aesthetic — more at -ics

Other Fine Arts Terms


AESTHETIC Defined for English Language Learners

aesthetic

adjective

Definition of aesthetic for English Language Learners

  • : of or relating to art or beauty


aesthetic

noun

Definition of aesthetic for English Language Learners

  • : 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


AESTHETIC Defined for Kids

aesthetic

adjective aes·thet·ic \ es-ˈthe-tik \

Definition of aesthetic for Students

:relating to beauty and what is beautiful
  • They made aesthetic improvements to the building.

aesthetically

\-i-kə-lē\ adverb
  • The garden has an aesthetically pleasing design.

Medical Dictionary

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 SkidmoreThe San Diego Union-Tribune8 May 2005


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