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-​ \

Essential Meaning of aesthetic

: of or relating to art or beauty There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for planting trees. the statue's aesthetic [=artistic] beauty See More Examplesmaking aesthetic improvements to the building aesthetic values/idealsHide

Full 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Bell & Ross steps up with a new GMT dual timer that adds a sleek, urban vibe to its signature instrumentation aesthetic. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 14 Sep. 2021 Olivia Rodrigo took the punk rock aesthetic from her debut album Sour straight to the 2021 Met Gala on Monday evening (Sept. 13) with her daring-yet-chic outfit. Heran Mamo, Billboard, 13 Sep. 2021 And an iconic image of the actress in a white cashmere sweater and pants with slingback pumps sealed his design aesthetic for this season. Allyson Portee, Forbes, 11 Sep. 2021 Nelson’s aesthetic in these plays has been so demonstrably uniform — and to some who are easily made antsy, so defiantly talky — that an audience member either commits or tunes out. Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2021 Where Snap’s design team has leaned into the Burning Man aesthetic for its Spectacles, Facebook and Ray-Ban went normcore. Peter Rubin, Wired, 9 Sep. 2021 Babbit’s coming-of-age lesbian comedy combines Waters’s kitsch aesthetic with her own ’90s style, telling a knowing and witty story of the 17-year-old Megan (Natasha Lyonne) being sent to a conversion-therapy camp. David Sims, The Atlantic, 8 Sep. 2021 Fans will be able to grab special, limited-edition cans with a collaborative design featuring Balvin's lightning bolt and neon aesthetic. Tomás Mier, PEOPLE.com, 10 Aug. 2021 Because of the Netflix drama’s overwhelming success, many were quick to tie the video’s opulent aesthetic to that of Bridgerton. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, 2 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Its Brutalist aesthetic, all sloped angles and copious amounts of concrete, is right out of the Ken Adam playbook. CNN, 20 Sep. 2021 Despite the brevity of Reed’s career, his aesthetic is well established. Piczo, The New Yorker, 20 Sep. 2021 Her aesthetic was approachable but pulled-together; aspirational but attainable. Sadie Stein, WSJ, 17 Sep. 2021 Nasher and Cunningham made sure her aesthetic would continue at NorthPark. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, 17 Sep. 2021 Think of it like your personalized closet concierge, only pulling styles that match your exact aesthetic. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 Sep. 2021 Even the entry level Icon room is a design treat with its mid-century aesthetic that includes an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair and Ms. Poodle lamp. Shivani Vora, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 The chic dining room welcomes patrons with its elegant aesthetic, but the delicious food and kind service are what brought me back again. Rose Bruno Bailey, Chron, 2 Sep. 2021 In addition to their aesthetic, the two take their shop’s name to heart, carefully curating an intimate experience for their customers. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near aesthetic

aesthete

aesthetic

aesthetic distance

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Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for aesthetic

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

More from Merriam-Webster on aesthetic

Nglish: Translation of aesthetic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of aesthetic for Arabic Speakers

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