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 \ -​ti-​kəl How to pronounce esthetical (audio) \

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 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 \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce esthetically (audio) \ 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

Busy weekend for Indie Craft Bazaar’s Amanda Weiner, longtime champion of local creators specializing in a DIY aesthetic, from jewelry and T-shirts, to food and music. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "Weekend preview: Women and beers and TVs we love, plus a Bon Jovi dance party?," 7 Aug. 2019 My English grandmother gave a very soft Anglo aesthetic to the house. Martha Mccully, Los Angeles Times, "Shopping for ‘ranch style’ design with Nathan Turner," 25 July 2019 In contrast with creators who polish their vlogs to high sheens, Chamberlain popularized a normcore-adjacent aesthetic. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet," 16 July 2019 Consider the mid-century Case Study House: minimalist prototypes for the masses that were aesthetic and affordable, each now a grail venerated by the architectural cognoscenti. R. Daniel Foster, latimes.com, "New book details architect Paul McClean’s ultramodern homes," 28 June 2019 Still, an aesthetic that might appeal to teen boys is the trend: loud, bold, and cartoonishly edgy. Kate Mooney, Vox, "Crowded shelves and melting skulls: why so many vape stores look the same," 26 July 2019 The bold, baggy and androgynous aesthetic is similar to the musician's trademark on-stage ensembles. Emily J. Sullivan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Partners in Design: Sneakers Inspired by 'SpongeBob' Characters and Jennifer Lopez's Versace Gown," 22 July 2019 The aesthetic here is plastic utensils, thin paper napkins and bright red cafeteria trays. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Go to Hue Gourmet for Vietnamese cuisine you can't find anywhere else in metro Phoenix," 10 July 2019 But as far as narrowing down what that aesthetic was, that was something that was really fun to work on with Heidi Bivens, our costume designer. Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times, "Enthralled by ‘Euphoria’? Hunter Schafer Knows Why (It’s Because of Her)," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One of Burle Marx’s signature elements was the use of biomorphic paving patterns, with walkways functioning as part of the site’s aesthetics, not just a way through it, Forrest says. Washington Post, "Huge NY show honors Brazilian Modern landscape architect," 30 July 2019 Besides aesthetics, however, the spire doesn’t have much use. Mckenna Oxenden, baltimoresun.com, "You asked: What’s at the top of that weird spire in Baltimore’s skyline? We took a reader up to find out.," 25 July 2019 Drugs, faddish 1980s’ production aesthetics, the mystifying inclusion of inferior songs, and a protracted recording process during which a frustrated Petty pulverized his hand melded together to create a record with a deep identity crisis. Michael Washburn, Longreads, "Tom Petty’s Problematic Album Southern Accents," 9 July 2019 The general Disneyland aesthetic, of course, is more synonymous with squeaky-clean fantasy than space garbage. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Star Wars Park Is a Space-Junk Fantasy," 5 June 2019 The store continued an outdated, grandiose aesthetics that promoted the mythical Stalinist concept of luxury. Djurdja Bartlett, Smithsonian, "When the United States and Soviet Union Fought It Out Over Fashion," 4 June 2019 Instead, opera — and especially classical opera — is about aesthetics and pure, throbbing emotion. Constance Grady, Vox, "Opera companies are increasingly starting to take their productions out of the opera house," 9 July 2019 There are a handful of options to choose from, though, and each has its pros and cons with respect to price, durability, aesthetics and eco-friendliness. Daniel Bortz, Washington Post, "The pros and cons of 6 driveway materials," 3 July 2019 Analysts predicted Allergan could split itself in two, with one business dedicated to fast-growing brands and segments such as aesthetics and eye care, and the other focused on gastrointestinal and women’s health treatments. Dana Cimilluca, WSJ, "AbbVie Strikes Deal to Acquire Allergan for About $63 Billion," 25 June 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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