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aesthetics

[es-thet-iks or, esp. British, ees-]
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noun (used with a singular verb)
  1. the branch of philosophy dealing with such notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc., as applicable to the fine arts, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art, and the principles underlying or justifying such judgments.
  2. the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
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Also esthetics.

Origin of aesthetics

First recorded in 1815–25; see origin at aesthetic, -ics

aesthetic

or es·thet·ic

[es-thet-ik or, esp. British, ees-]
adjective
  1. relating to the philosophy of aesthetics; concerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
  2. relating to the science of aesthetics; concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
  3. having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
  4. relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.
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noun
  1. the philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty at a given time and place: the clean lines, bare surfaces, and sense of space that bespeak the machine-age aesthetic; the Cubist aesthetic.
  2. a particular individual’s set of ideas about style and taste, along with its expression: the designer’s aesthetic of accessible, wearable fashion; a great aesthetic on her blog.
  3. one’s set of principles or worldview as expressed through outward appearance, behavior, or actions: the democratic aesthetic of the abolitionists.
  4. Archaic. the study of the nature of sensation.
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Origin of aesthetic

1795–1800; < New Latin aesthēticus < Greek aisthētikós “pertaining to sense perception, perceptible, sensitive” equivalent to aisthēt(ḗs) (see aesthete) + -ikos -ic
Related formsnon·aes·thet·ic, adjectivepseu·do·aes·thet·ic, adjective
Can be confusedacetic aesthetic ascetic

Synonyms for aesthetic

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for aesthetics

esthetics

Examples from the Web for aesthetics

Contemporary Examples of aesthetics

Historical Examples of aesthetics

  • The author shows his familiarity with the standard books on aesthetics.

  • But the whole volume is full of indirect suggestion on aesthetics.

    The Beautiful

    Vernon Lee

  • Of this nature is a great deal of what has been written on aesthetics.

    The Sense of Beauty

    George Santayana

  • What is true of mysticism in general, is true also of its manifestation in aesthetics.

    The Sense of Beauty

    George Santayana

  • Materials of beauty surveyed, 76 et seq.Methods in aesthetics, 5.

    The Sense of Beauty

    George Santayana


British Dictionary definitions for aesthetics

aesthetics

sometimes US esthetics

noun (functioning as singular)
  1. the branch of philosophy concerned with the study of such concepts as beauty, taste, etc
  2. the study of the rules and principles of art
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Word Origin for aesthetics

C18: from Greek aisthētikos perceptible by the senses, from aisthesthai to perceive

aesthetic

sometimes US esthetic

adjective Also: aesthetical, sometimes US esthetical
  1. 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
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noun
  1. a principle of taste or style adopted by a particular person, group, or culturethe Bauhaus aesthetic of functional modernity
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Derived Formsaesthetically 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

Word Origin and History for aesthetics

n.

1803, from aesthetic (also see -ics).

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aesthetic

n.

1798, from German Ästhetisch or French esthétique, both from Greek aisthetikos "sensitive, perceptive," from aisthanesthai "to perceive (by the senses or by the mind), to feel," from PIE *awis-dh-yo-, from root *au- "to perceive" (see audience).

Popularized in English by translation of Immanuel Kant, and used originally in the classically correct sense "the science which treats of the conditions of sensuous perception." Kant had tried to correct the term after Alexander Baumgarten had taken it in German to mean "criticism of taste" (1750s), but Baumgarten's sense attained popularity in English c.1830s (despite scholarly resistance) and removed the word from any philosophical base. Walter Pater used it (1868) to describe the late 19c. movement that advocated "art for art's sake," which further blurred the sense. As an adjective by 1803. Related: Aesthetically.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

aesthetics in Medicine

aesthetics

n.
  1. The study of psychological aspects of beauty, especially with the components thereof as they relate to appearance.
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aesthetic

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

aesthetics in Culture

aesthetics

The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of art and with judgments concerning beauty. “What is art?” and “What do we mean when we say something is beautiful?” are two questions often asked by aestheticians.

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Note

The term aesthete is sometimes used negatively to describe someone whose pursuit of beauty is excessive or appears phony.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.