1798, from Ger. ästhetisch or Fr. esthétique, both from Gk. aisthetikos "sensitive," from aisthanesthai "to perceive, to feel," from PIE *awis-dh-yo-, from base *au- "to perceive." Popularized in Eng. 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 Baumgarten had taken it in Ger. 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. Related: Aesthetically.