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 With an impeccable showgirl drag aesthetic and natural comedic chops, Mateo had no trouble positioning herself as a fierce competitor among newer Drag Race stars vying for the crown alongside her. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Robbed icon Alexis Mateo on boldly playing Drag Race with 'big balls, baby!'," 13 July 2020 The minimalist aesthetic and neutral color palette found across this waterfront retreat allow the lush scenery to truly shine. Devorah Lev-tov, Travel + Leisure, "Top 10 Southeast Asia Resort Hotels," 8 July 2020 Did the show's production design team use that 90s aesthetic as inspiration for the sets, specifically the girls' bedrooms? Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "How The Baby-Sitter’s Club Production Design Team Infused 90s Nostalgia Into Its Sets," 3 July 2020 The simple, minimalistic design aesthetic of Japan has always inspired me. Hillary Maglin, Travel + Leisure, "'Queer Eye' Star Bobby Berk Shares His Tips for Travel-inspired Home Design," 12 July 2020 Make your aesthetic dreams come true with Etsy's linen face masks. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "26 Cute Etsy Face Masks to Shop Right Now," 9 July 2020 The administration said the Sierra Club’s recreational and aesthetic interests are completely unconnected with the statute that governs the Defense Department’s internal reallocation of appropriated funds. Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg.com, "Trump’s 2019 Border Wall Spending Rebuffed by Appeals Court," 29 June 2020 This classic chinoiserie pattern is reimagined for summer with its watercolor aesthetic and range of cheerful colorways. Elizabeth Sweet, Better Homes & Gardens, "Sunny Removable Wallpaper Patterns for a Fast Summer Room Refresh," 29 June 2020 The marketing style of the company on Instagram, especially, plays into a younger, lighter aesthetic. Rachel King, Fortune, "The founder of paint supply startup Clare on how to use your brand as a social platform," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Is there any specific hotel or resort whose design aesthetic has really stuck with you and inspired you? Hillary Maglin, Travel + Leisure, "'Queer Eye' Star Bobby Berk Shares His Tips for Travel-inspired Home Design," 12 July 2020 The ultimate cool-kid shoe, the combat boot conglomerate has been a staple for any grunge aesthetic. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Dr. Martens Launches Capsule Collection With Jean-Michael Basquiat," 10 July 2020 Elantra N Line’s side skirts and 18-inch alloy wheels with larger brakes further emphasize the sporty aesthetic. Pr Newswire, Houston Chronicle, "Hyundai Motor unveils rendering of new Elantra N line," 9 July 2020 Thanks to beloved makeup artist Jung Saem Mool, the overall aesthetic is often referred to transparent makeup. Devon Abelman, Allure, "How K-Beauty Brand Hince Is Making Korean Makeup More Accessible for All," 7 July 2020 On July 15th the Japanese car giant will unveil what is rumoured to be a sleeker, more minimalist logo more in line with the contemporary aesthetic. The Economist, "Turning down the volume Nissan’s newish boss wants to re-engineer the troubled carmaker," 2 July 2020 This outdoor option from Outsunny is an easy way to upgrade your backyard in one fell swoop—and the modern, neutral color scheme will pair nicely with nearly any aesthetic. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Hammocks to Get Your Backyard Ready for Summer Staycations," 18 June 2020 In his room, Izidor has captured the Romanian folk aesthetic, but something else stirs beneath the surface. Melissa Fay Greene, The Atlantic, "Can an Unloved Child Learn to Love?," 18 June 2020 Reviews rave about its heat output and contemporary aesthetic. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, "Kick your outdoor entertaining up a notch with these 13 fire pits," 6 July 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.

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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

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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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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