aesthete (n.)

"person of advanced and fine artistic sensibilities," attested from 1878, in vogue 1881, from Greek aisthētēs "one who perceives," from stem of aisthanesthai "to perceive (by the senses or by the mind), to feel," from PIE *awis-dh-yo-, from root *au- "to perceive." Or perhaps it is from aesthetic on the model of athlete/athletic. The idea is somewhat older than the word. Aesthetician "professor of taste" is from 1829; aestheticist is from 1868.

1. Properly, one who cultivates the sense of the beautiful; one in whom the artistic sense or faculty is highly developed; one very sensible of the beauties of nature or art.—2. Commonly, a person who affects great love of art, music, poetry, and the like, and corresponding indifference to practical matters; one who carries the cultivation of subordinate forms of the beautiful to an exaggerated extent: used in slight contempt. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
I want to be an aesthete,
  And with the aesthetes stand;
A sunflower on my forehead,
  And a lily in my hand.
[Puck, Oct. 5, 1881]

updated on September 15, 2022