aesthetic

or es·thet·ic

[ es-thet-ik or, especially British, ees- ]
/ ɛsˈθɛt ɪk or, especially British, is- /

adjective

noun

VIDEO FOR AESTHETIC

WATCH NOW: How Do You Describe Someone's "Aesthetic"?

If you like a certain type of interior design, or art form, or particular band, or even a certain color ... that is your aesthetic; it evokes a happy and calming emotion in you because it's what is pleasing to your senses.

MORE VIDEOS FROM DICTIONARY.COM

QUIZZES

FOR LEXICAL ALIMENTATION, TAKE THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!

Nourish your vocabulary with a refresher on the words from the week of September 14–20, 2020!
Question 1 of 7
What does “blatherskite” mean?

Origin of aesthetic

1795–1800; <New Latin aesthēticus <Greek aisthētikós “pertaining to sense perception, perceptible, sensitive” equivalent to aisthēt(ḗs) (see aesthete) + -ikos -ic

OTHER WORDS FROM aesthetic

non·aes·thet·ic, adjectivepseu·do·aes·thet·ic, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH aesthetic

acetic, aesthetic , ascetic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does aesthetic mean?

Aesthetic concerns what is considered beautiful.

In pop culture, an aesthetic refers to the overall style of someone or something, like a musical sound, interior design, or even a social-media presence.

In the 2010s, the term became closely associated with vaporwave culture on Tumblr.

Where did the term aesthetic come from?

Tumblr kids might want to imagine that they made up aesthetic, but they ultimately have 18th-century German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten for coining aesthetics, recorded in English in the 1760–70s. Treated in ancient and modern philosophy alike, aesthetics considers how humans experience and appreciate beauty, art, and taste.

Fast forward to the 2010s, when the music genre vaporwave helped bring the term aesthetic to the mainstream. Several releases were influential in popularizing the term, including Macintosh Plus’s album Floral Shoppe (2012) and Savvy J’s video “AESTHETIC” (2013).

Vaporwave had a very defined aesthetic—or the curated appearance or style of something, especially when it comes to a look, art, or design, a sense of the word which dates back to the 1950s. Its album covers featured 1980–90s graphics, bright, airbrushed pinks and purples, and images of classical statues and retro technology. While people in vaporwave culture were proud of their aesthetic, others began to satirize its originality online.

Meanwhile, many on social media sites like Tumblr began cultivating blogs with a particular aesthetic, typically based on a particular theme, look, feel, or interest—helping to make this fancy, philosophical word with Greek roots a more common term for “beautiful” or “well-styled.”

How to use the term aesthetic

Aesthetic is both a noun and adjective and is used by everyone from philosophers to bloggers. Something that has aesthetic appeal is very beautiful, attractive, or stylish. Something that has a certain aesthetic features a well-defined and well-cultivated style (e.g., a shabby chic aesthetic, goth aesthetic, or minimalist aesthetic in one’s dress, home, lifestyle, or work). Having a recognizable aesthetic is considered complementary and very desirable, especially in an age of personal brands.

More examples of aesthetic:

“Pop stars, such as rising artist Rina Sawayama, have adopted the aesthetic and made it a central part of their image, both aesthetically and sonically. Charli XCX and Troye Sivan even released a tribute track entitled “1999,” with album artwork featuring the two artists dressed as characters from “The Matrix,” a film essential to the development of the early 2000s aesthetic.”
—Michael Wu, Study Breaks, October 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for aesthetic

British Dictionary definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

sometimes US esthetic

/ (iːsˈθɛtɪk, ɪs-) /

adjective Also: aesthetical, sometimes US esthetical

connected with aesthetics or its principles
  1. relating to pure beauty rather than to other considerations
  2. artistic or relating to good tastean aesthetic consideration

noun

a principle of taste or style adopted by a particular person, group, or culturethe Bauhaus aesthetic of functional modernity

Derived forms of aesthetic

aesthetically or sometimes US esthetically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for aesthetic

aesthetic

adj.

Relating to the sensations.
Relating to esthetics.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.