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

The house was reportedly selected for the show by creator Sherwood Schwartz for its approachable yet of-the-moment aesthetic. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, "Lance Bass Finally Tours the Newly Renovated Brady Bunch House He Wanted to Buy," 16 Sep. 2019 Just as Instagram’s nostalgic filters and the bricolage identity-curation platforms like Pinterest were catching on, here was someone gluing together disparate references using a Super 8 aesthetic. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Plot Against Persona," 15 Sep. 2019 Simons, who designed for Jil Sander and Dior, and then worked as the creative director at Calvin Klein, is known for an aesthetic of precision and minimalist restraint, the opposite of Ruby’s rugged style of willfully messy profusion. Christina Binkley, The New Yorker, "Sterling Ruby’s Mixed Media," 2 Sep. 2019 If my hunch is right, this raises the question, why would women, most of whom are, by the law of averages, not gay, adopt such an aesthetic? Richard Brookhiser, National Review, "Behind the Times," 22 Aug. 2019 Apple's shiny new credit card boasts many features, such as clear statements, a cash-back program, and an extremely Apple aesthetic. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Maybe don’t keep your Apple Card in a leather wallet, Apple warns," 22 Aug. 2019 The bulbs have an antique aesthetic but are much more energy efficient than the original Edison bulbs. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Walmart, Amazon and Ikea sued over Edison light bulbs," 31 July 2019 Inhabitants might access the habitat through around airlock dug into a mound, an aesthetic that Bilbo Baggins could appreciate. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "What Would a 21st Century Moon Base Look Like?," 21 July 2019 As the aesthetic is co-opted and corporatized, its fans are, somewhat ironically, avoiding the new and, instead, looking for rare vintage pieces to stay on the cutting edge and break free from a look that’s increasingly homogenized. Max Berlinger, Los Angeles Times, "At the Rose Bowl Flea Market, vintage streetwear draws a crowd," 12 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Reynders also takes a lot of pride in the aesthetics of her artifacts. Oscar Schwartz, WIRED, "There’s a Thriving Market for Human Body Parts on Instagram," 21 Aug. 2019 The Doll Factory, which is already a hit in England, offers an eerily lifelike re-creation of 1850s London laced with a smart feminist critique of Western aesthetics. Ron Charles, Dallas News, "'The Doll Factory' is a page-turning Victorian thriller," 13 Aug. 2019 Recent cinematic times have seen similarly drastic shifts in the aesthetics and the business of movies. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream This Weekend: “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” Through the Eyes of Pauline Kael," 21 June 2019 Each group of viewers is allotted 15 minutes, enough time to soak in the fading aesthetics. Michael J. Bailey, BostonGlobe.com, "In Milan, a low-tech saunter through a mecca of high fashion," 18 June 2019 There’s the style, in terms of both baseball (high heat) and aesthetics (those beards). SI.com, "Every Team's Most Memorable Closer," 6 June 2019 Team members, aware of Wright’s interest in Japanese aesthetics, also tested proportions based on the dimensions of a traditional tatami mat to fill in the gaps in the Banff drawing. Vipal Monga, WSJ, "The Quest to Recover a Lost Frank Lloyd Wright Building," 30 May 2018 Throughout the museum, three art pieces of equivalent aesthetics are strategically displayed in a case to convey the commonalities of artistic evolution despite hailing from a different geography or era. Kara Ladd, Marie Claire, "Weekend Trip Guide: Where to Stay, Eat, and Drink in Dubai," 4 May 2018 Advances in dumpling aesthetics have not been limited to the major dim sum kitchens. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Is Instagram making our dim sum better?," 3 May 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.

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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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