Word Confusion: Aesthetic versus Esthetic

Posted July 11, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

And yet another word confusion of my own. I actually did see this as the same word, but figured I had to be wrong. They’re spelled differently, therefore they must have different definitions. Mustn’t they?

When I ran across esthetic used in a story, I decided to dive into it and prove it one way or the other. I was not expecting to find the dental aspect. Other than that one toothy field, aesthetic and esthetic can be used interchangeably. Ain’t that a sweet deal?

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Aesthetic Esthetic
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Hairy Chest” is G.dallorto’s own work, via Wikimedia Commons

…and then there’s the aesthetic of a nice six-pack.


“A Girl with a Beautiful Smile” by Gopal Venkatesan from Bangalore, India, is under the CC-BY-SA-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s an esthetic smile.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun (a plural noun usually treated as a single) Adjective; Noun (a plural noun usually treated as a single)
Adjective:
Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty

  • Giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty
  • Of pleasing appearance

Noun:
Used in the art field


[Plural] A set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art.

  • The branch of philosophy that deals with the principles of beauty and artistic taste

[Singular] A set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement

Adjective:
Concerned with creating a natural and pleasing smile

Noun:
Used in the dental field

Examples:
Adjective:
The pictures give great aesthetic pleasure.

Noun:
the Cubist aesthetic

Adjective:
Seventy-five percent of North American dentists preferred using the RED proportion when designing smiles with normal-length teeth over using the golden proportion, which has been a pseudostandard in esthetic dentistry (Daniel H. Ward, DDS).

Noun:
He appreciated the estheticism of good dentistry.

The English are not renowned for the estheticism of their dental work.

Derivatives:
Adjective: nonaesthetic, pseudoaesthetic
Adverb: aesthetically
Adverb: esthetically [Sometimes U.S.]
History of the Word:
Late 18th century

From the Greek aisthētikos which is itself from the aisthēta meaning perceptible things which is itself from aisthesthai meaning to perceive in the sense of relating to perception by the senses.

In the sense concerned with beauty, it was coined in German in the mid-18th century and adopted into English in the early 19th century, but its use was controversial until late in the century.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Monarch on New England Aster is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.

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