noun (used with a singular verb)
- 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.
- the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
- relating to the philosophy of aesthetics; concerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
- relating to the science of aesthetics; concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty.
- having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
- relating to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.
- 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.
- 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.
- one’s set of principles or worldview as expressed through outward appearance, behavior, or actions: the democratic aesthetic of the abolitionists.
- Archaic. the study of the nature of sensation.
noun (functioning as singular)
- the branch of philosophy concerned with the study of such concepts as beauty, taste, etc
- the study of the rules and principles of art
adjective Also: aesthetical, sometimes US esthetical
- connected with aesthetics or its principles
- relating to pure beauty rather than to other considerations
- artistic or relating to good tastean aesthetic consideration
- a principle of taste or style adopted by a particular person, group, or culturethe Bauhaus aesthetic of functional modernity
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.
- The study of psychological aspects of beauty, especially with the components thereof as they relate to appearance.
- Relating to the sensations.
- Relating to esthetics.
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.