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

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 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
2  plural in form but singular in construction : 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 — see also optic entry 2 sense 2a

Examples of optics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Dumas said the new telescope would use special optics to suppress the light of stars. Audrey Mcavoy, Anchorage Daily News, "Giant Hawaii telescope will dive into the big unknowns of the universe," 19 July 2019 The value of having the Davis divorce in the rearview as the franchise’s new face arrives is massive from a franchise optics perspective. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "Pelicans Have Opportunity for Fresh Start After Trading Anthony Davis to Lakers," 15 June 2019 Please transform my optics Transformation optics is one of my favorite things (right after raindrops on roses and definitely replacing all mention of kittens). Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Researchers 3D print a wormhole… for sound waves," 6 Dec. 2018 Plus, Barrett is a woman, a mother of seven, in her mid-40s, and a person of faith, all aspects that may appeal to Trump on an optics level, CNN adds. Megan Friedman, Marie Claire, "Would Amy Coney Barrett Vote Against Roe v. Wade? Trump's SCOTUS Frontrunner Is Resolute," 5 July 2018 But from an optics standpoint, Clune questioned the message being sent to the MSU community. Gina Kaufman, Detroit Free Press, "Victim advocates fume over Michigan State attorney's new job on campus," 29 June 2018 Finding answers could help women like Sheryl Greene, 50, a fiber optics saleswoman in Roanoke, Va. Marie Mccullough, Philly.com, "What the latest news on breast cancer, chemo and genomic testing could mean for you," 5 June 2018 And while the Nasdaq Composite was relatively flat, shares of other fiber optics makers also rose. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Saving ZTE Isn't Just About Chinese Jobs. Americans Firms Also Have a Lot to Lose," 14 May 2018 While Jackson has denied the allegations, Hill Republicans were consumed Tuesday with managing yet another optics crisis for the White House. Lauren Fox, CNN, "Some lawmakers fear White House vetting isn't good enough on nominees," 24 Apr. 2018

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

25 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for optics

The first known use of optics was in 1579

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on optics

Spanish Central: Translation of optics

Nglish: Translation of optics for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of optics for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about optics

Comments on optics

What made you want to look up optics? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to the heavens

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