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

From her chic aesthetic to her beaming smile, Rowland has created a career loved by many. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Kelly Rowland Is Back With A New Fabletics Collection," 10 Sep. 2019 The Melbourne group retained their sampledelic aesthetic for the sophomore album, but introduced a focus on guest vocalists, including Danny Brown, Biz Markie, and David Berman. Al Shipley, Billboard, "Worth the Wait: The 10 Best Albums That Fans Waited Over a Decade For," 29 Aug. 2019 Her new resume was created to be visually engaging and create a balanced aesthetic to facilitate ease of readability. Dear Sam | Expert Resume, oregonlive, "May Makeover Series: Target your audience through keyword relevance on your resume," 3 May 2019 The causes of death are financial, cultural, aesthetic. Emma Baccellieri, SI.com, "A Brief History of the Many Times Baseball Has Died," 29 Aug. 2019 Baz Luhrmann, the Australian film director known for his more-is-more aesthetic, sat in a Manhattan recording studio one recent Tuesday afternoon, at a table strewn with sheet music and water bottles. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” Mega Mashup," 26 Aug. 2019 However, Black excellence as a mood and aesthetic says that there is no such thing as failure. Steven Underwood, Essence, "Opinion: Is Black Excellence Killing Us?," 21 Aug. 2019 Its harsh stainless steel and black color scheme, which doesn't really vibe with my kitchen aesthetic. Isabelle Kagan, USA TODAY, "Instant Pots finally come in different colors—and they're on sale," 8 Aug. 2019 The team at White and Kaki, a Portuguese interior design atelier, decided to adopt a similar mix-and-match aesthetic to make every room feel like part of an impossibly chic home. Chadner Navarro, Condé Nast Traveler, "A New Hotel Is Embracing the Laid-Back Eastern Side of the Algarve," 26 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Our verdict: With so much research TBD on CBD, choose a candle based on its aesthetics and scent. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "You Can Now Buy CBD Oil-Infused Candles," 13 Sep. 2019 Though a visual pivot from their grungier days, the driving catalysts behind their new aesthetic are still the same. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Sleater-Kinney Are Still Here to Subvert, With a New Album and Aesthetic," 6 Sep. 2019 As much as its external aesthetics, the Air’s internal layout demonstrates the design brilliance that helped Apple dominate the consumer technology market. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Things Come Apart: MacBook Air," 24 Aug. 2019 His aesthetic is a cross between Victorian Gothic and colonial explorer, as if Edgar Allan Poe wrote the screenplay for Indiana Jones. Oscar Schwartz, WIRED, "There’s a Thriving Market for Human Body Parts on Instagram," 21 Aug. 2019 Your visual aesthetic has a sort of apocalyptic beauty. Katie Bain, Billboard, "20 Questions With Illenium: The Producer Discusses His Success, Sadboi Status & New Album 'Ascend'," 15 Aug. 2019 Almost every youth-setup in the world borrows from his extensive development techniques, every *insert Premier League club* way based on his aesthetics. SI.com, "Rinus Michels: The Most Influential Manager There Ever Was & His Total Football Legacy," 14 Aug. 2019 Its overwhelming aesthetic must be tamed in order to process it all. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Tips on complementing summer flavors in the kitchen," 23 July 2019 As the studio that's launched Ari Aster and Robert Eggers, popularized Barry Jenkins and Greta Gerwig, and pioneered its own quirky '90s-retro aesthetic, A24 enjoys its status as Hollywood's coolest name. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "Could A24’s ‘The Farewell’ Be This Summer’s Biggest Indie Success Story?," 17 July 2019

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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More Definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty

aesthetic

noun

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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Comments on aesthetic

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