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

To create this aesthetic, a lash curler surprisingly isn't involved. Devon Abelman, Allure, "These Are the Biggest Makeup Trends in South Korea in 2019," 8 May 2019 Interior design styles run the gamut from coastal to mid-century modern, but there's one aesthetic that's just as worthy of attention: Art Nouveau. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "Here's Everything You Need to Know About Art Nouveau Design," 28 Mar. 2019 Made of untreated solid pine, the line works well with a more relaxed design aesthetic, like bohemian or country casual. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "Pantry," 11 Feb. 2019 The end result was a collection that remained true to Valentino's aesthetic while paying homage to Japanese culture—something other fashion brands could learn from when staging their runways in other countries. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Valentino Made It Rain Rose Petals At Its Pre-Fall 2019 Show in Tokyo," 27 Nov. 2018 Though the building is faithful to the shipping container aesthetic, all of the units have slanted cut-outs, which, besides serving as very cool angular windows, create a chevron pattern that manifests across the building’s facade. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Striking apartment building is made up of 140 shipping containers," 12 Nov. 2018 There are sporting, aesthetic, and even moral distinctions to untangle. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "The Elusive Underdog Magic of the World Cup," 14 July 2018 Their stepping down represents a change in Vogue’s aesthetic, especially as Goodman is responsible for many of the cover shoots. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Vogue Reportedly Losing Two Top Editors," 13 July 2018 This idea of a community that supports fellow artists actually continues to influence Mt. Joy’s aesthetic, as well. Lilly Milman, Billboard, "Mt. Joy's Matt Quinn on 'Surreal' Success, Dropping Out of Law School and Writing No. 1 Hit 'Silver Lining'," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The minimalist aesthetics of the S1 encases anything but simplistic features, positioning Runtopia as an easy entry point into GPS running tech. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Runtopia's S1 Is the GPS Running Smartwatch You Can Actually Afford," 2 Apr. 2019 The rendering includes nods to the traditional character of Frogmore Cottage with the crystal chandelier and sconces, but the overarching modern aesthetic of the nursery reflects the Sussex's new-age take on the monarchy. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Nursery Could Look Like This," 26 Mar. 2019 The overall aesthetic of the shop lives up to its name, blending midcentury modern’s sophisticated minimalism with a nod to the rugged outdoors. Chris Lamorte, chicagotribune.com, "Andersonville’s new men's lifestyle shop Cowboys & Astronauts is ready to launch your summer style in 10, 9, 8 ...," 15 June 2018 The result is nostalgic, fun, and captures both the aesthetic of Keller’s era and the sardonic feminism of the original article. Annika Neklason, The Atlantic, "Animating the Atlantic Archives," 2 May 2018 Today, the aesthetics of Balenciaga and Givenchy live on through their successors, Demna Gvasalia and Clare Waight Keller, both of whom have made an effort to reimagine the designers’ respective signatures. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Fashion Remembers Hubert de Givenchy’s Genius," 13 Mar. 2018 And the aesthetic of the interior carries through to the outdoors. David A. Keeps, House Beautiful, "Decorating a Breezy, Caribbean-Inspired House," 19 June 2014 Picking mounts that go with the aesthetic of your home is vital to making sure that your living wall complements your home, rather than look completely out of place. Nikhita Mahtani, House Beautiful, "Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Living Wall," 13 Mar. 2019 Additional fun facts: Hicks’ bold aesthetic was the basis for Burch’s first New York boutique. Lindzi Scharf, latimes.com, "Want your summer wardrobe to stand out? Try these four artist-and-fashion collaborations on for size," 21 June 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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