plural noun
op·​tics | \ ˈäp-tiks How to pronounce optics (audio) \

Definition of optics

1 plural in form but usually singular in construction : a science that deals with the genesis and propagation of light, the changes that it undergoes and produces, and other phenomena closely associated with it But before we deal with telescopes, you need to understand a little about optics—how light is controlled.— Michael Zeilik et al. Everything we know suggests that [eyeglasses] were invented by chance, and by laymen who were not learned in optics.— Daniel J. Boorstin — see also optic entry 2 sense 2a
2 : the aspects of an action, policy, or decision (as in politics or business) that relate to public perceptions … when a broken-down bailout recipient like Citigroup tries to pay its top executives gigantic bonuses or to acquire a new private jet, it has failed to reconsider the optics.— Nick Paumgarten Skilling said Baxter "was concerned about the optics of the conflict, but not about the ethics or propriety of the transactions," according to interview memos.— Peter Behr and April Witt

Examples of optics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At least in tone and optics, this weekend's G7 is starkly different from those held in Italy, Canada and France during the years Trump was in office. Kevin Liptak, CNN, 12 June 2021 Biden can only lose out if the optics and the politics of Russia policy continue to dominate the rest of his agenda. Michael Kimmage, The New Republic, 9 June 2021 Despite the optics, given recent gains in social acceptance of LGBTQ+ lives, this lack of visibility may be less about bias and exclusion and more about inexperience, uncertainty, and risk aversion. Gillian Oakenfull, Forbes, 1 June 2021 The notable increase across the region in homicides and gun violence last year suggests the optics won’t allow for it, either. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 May 2021 For all the happy optics of Emiratis vacationing in Tel Aviv and Israelis partying in Dubai, no new countries have joined on since the initial flurry under Trump. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 12 May 2021 Vista Outdoor formed in 2015 and is made up of more than 35 outdoor brands including, bicycles, camping gear, golf and skiing equipment, optics and ammunition makers. John Magsam, Arkansas Online, 27 May 2021 As 2024 presidential optics continue to loom over the current political landscape, at least two high-profile Republican governors and potential presidential hopefuls are at the forefront of an unfolding culture war aimed at social media companies. Alisa Wiersema, ABC News, 26 May 2021 For more than just optics, the Orioles like having both Westburg and top infield prospect Gunnar Henderson — who despite another standout week can’t even crack this list — at Delmarva together. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, 25 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'optics.' 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 optics

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for optics

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Optics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optics. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for optics



English Language Learners Definition of optics

: the science that studies light and the way it affects and is affected by other things


op·​tics | \ ˈäp-tiks How to pronounce optics (audio) \

Kids Definition of optics

: a science that deals with the nature and properties of light and the changes that it undergoes and produces
op·​tics | \ ˈäp-tiks How to pronounce optics (audio) \

Medical Definition of optics

1 : a science that deals with the genesis and propagation of light, the changes that it undergoes and produces, and other phenomena closely associated with it
2 : optical properties

More from Merriam-Webster on optics

Nglish: Translation of optics for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of optics for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about optics


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