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 Yet, there is one central location in the series that couldn’t be further from Outer Banks’ signature sunny aesthetic: the Crain House. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "Outer Banks’ Crain House Is Basically Real & Definitely Terrifying," 24 Apr. 2020 The reasons to want more communal singing are not aesthetic or nostalgic. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "A Return to the Original Purpose of Music," 9 Apr. 2020 Victoria’s Secret, still tied to the push-up bra aesthetic the company projected for many years, has lost ground to competitors that market their products as comfortable and body-positive. Sally Bakewell, Bloomberg.com, "Victoria’s Secret Sells Control to Sycamore; Wexner Steps Down," 8 May 2020 The actress loves arts and crafts projects and have cultivated a very cool, DIY aesthetic on her Instagram over the past few years. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise Are Doing DIY Tie Dye Projects in Quarantine," 3 May 2020 Riverdale has a very specific, highly stylized aesthetic. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Mädchen Amick teases Riverdale directorial debut, and what she learned from David Lynch," 30 Apr. 2020 Durable, machine washable covers are also included with this set, which buyers love for its balcony-friendly sizing and gorgeous aesthetic. Nicole Briese, USA TODAY, "5 of the best patio furniture deals you can get right now," 24 Apr. 2020 Cariuma With its accessible price point and minimal aesthetic, Cariuma believes in creating eco-conscious footwear that stands the test of time. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "30 Sustainable Clothing Brands to Shop on Earth Day (and Any Other Day)," 21 Apr. 2020 Forgo any preconceived early-2000s notions on what this might entail—in the last few years, press-ons have reached new innovative and aesthetic heights. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Give Yourself the Best Manicure At Home With These Expert Tips," 3 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun They are concerned with aesthetics, engineering, and, most importantly, their inventions’ effects on the user. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "We’re about to re-enter an office full of half-baked design prototypes," 19 May 2020 Style-wise, a simple look is timeless and complements many aesthetics, including farmhouse and modern. Kristina Mcguirk, Better Homes & Gardens, "This Year's Outdoor Living Trends Bring the Comforts of Indoors to Your Backyard," 30 Apr. 2020 And the videos tend to have a more homegrown, authentic feel to them; closer to the now-defunct video app Vine than the aesthetics-heavy world of Instagram. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Stuck at home, families find a new way to bond: creating TikTok videos," 19 Apr. 2020 This secular revival has blessed its adherents with a scheme of ethics, aesthetics, eschatology, and soteriology all their own. Tanner Greer, National Review, "Learning the Wrong Lessons from Reform Conservatism," 17 Mar. 2020 The distinctive aesthetics of VHS — associated for some with the Reagan-era heyday of indoor shopping malls and the Clinton-era economic boom that preceded the 9/11 terror attacks — have bled into experimental pop music, too. NBC News, "VHS tapes are back in vogue as everything old is new again," 7 Mar. 2020 With its clinical aesthetic, thin veneer of skepticism and authority reinforced by an aspirational celebrity businesswoman who just learned what a vulva is, Goop Lab runs the great risk of exacerbating it. Judy Berman, Time, "Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix Goop Show Is a High-End Infomercial Masquerading as an Investigative Docuseries," 22 Jan. 2020 The author of more than 50 books, Dr. Scruton wrote about morality, politics, aesthetics, architecture, Kantian philosophy, and the joys of hunting, in addition to penning two operas and several novels. Harrison Smith, BostonGlobe.com, "Roger Scruton, British philosopher and conservative lightning rod," 14 Jan. 2020 But aesthetics aside, the mask is also a super bomb of moisture for your lips — perfect for the dry winters. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "Tatcha's best-selling lip mask is finally back in stock," 26 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for aesthetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of aesthetic was in 1797

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Statistics for aesthetic

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aesthetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

adjective
How to pronounce aesthetic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of aesthetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to art or beauty

aesthetic

noun
How to pronounce aesthetic (audio)

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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