the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art;
an art collection.
See also , .
a field, genre, or category of art:
Dance is an art.
the collectively, often excluding architecture:
art and architecture.
any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art;
industrial art.
a branch of learning or university study, especially one of the or , as music, philosophy, or literature: She was adept at the arts of music and painting;
I’ve always felt an affinity towards the visual arts, though I studied art of philosophy.

(used with a singular verb) , as distinguished from the sciences and technical fields:
a college of arts and sciences.
(used with a plural verb) :
Faculty of Arts.

skill in conducting any human activity: a master at the art of conversation;
From my mother, I learned the art of perfectly cooked pasta.
Synonyms: knack, facility, technical skill, skillfulness, know-how.

the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking;
the art of selling.
Synonyms: craft, technique, skill; procedure, method, way; fine points, subtleties.
the craft, trade, or profession using these principles or methods.

See also .
skilled workmanship, execution, or agency, as distinguished from nature.
trickery; cunning:
glib and devious art.
Synonyms: craftiness, guile, slyness, wiliness, artfulness, intrigue, machination, scheming.
studied action; artificiality in behavior.
Synonyms: deceit, deception, duplicity, imposture, falsehood.
Antonyms: frankness, candor, openness, artlessness, ingenuousness, sincerity; truthfulness, honesty.
an artifice or artful device:
the innumerable arts and wiles of politics.
Synonyms: contrivance, scheme, trick, tactic, stratagem, maneuver; subterfuge, ruse, dodge, feint, wile.
(in printed matter) illustrative or decorative material:
Is there any art with the copy for this story?
Archaic. science, learning, or scholarship.
art up, to improve the aesthetic quality of (something) through some form of art: This dress is so plain, it could use some arting up.
I had an interior designer art up my apartment.
2nd person singular present indicative of .
a male given name, form of .
article: often used to represent the class of determiners, including words such as this, that, and some as well as the articles a, an, and the.
variant of :
plural arts. article; articles.
to exist or live:
Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be” is the ultimate question.
to take place; happen; occur:
The wedding was last week.
to occupy a place or position:
The book is on the table.
to continue or remain as before:
Let things be.
to belong; attend; befall:
May good fortune be with you.
(used as a copula to connect the subject with its predicate adjective, or predicate nominative, in order to describe, identify, or amplify the subject):
Martha is tall. John is president. This is she.
(used as a copula to introduce or form interrogative or imperative sentences):
Is that right? Be quiet! Don’t be facetious.
(used with the present participle of another verb to form the progressive tense):
I am waiting.
(used with the present participle or infinitive of the principal verb to indicate future action):
She is visiting there next week. He is to see me today.
(used with the past participle of another verb to form the passive voice):
The date was fixed. It must be done.
(used in archaic or literary constructions with some intransitive verbs to form the perfect tense):
He is come. Agamemnon to the wars is gone.
Arthur (“Art”) born 1942, U.S. singer.
(James) Arthur (“Art”) born 1957, U.S. football player.
[thuh-loh-nee-uh s] /θəˈloʊ ni əs/ (Show IPA), (Sphere) 1917–1982, U.S. jazz pianist and composer.
George, .
Contemporary Examples

The Mexican Justice Department has made no details public about the art collection of Héctor Beltrán Leyva.
Trading Dime Bags for Salvador Dali Jason McGahan October 18, 2014

The other obvious trend at the fair is also good for visitors: Some art is again affordable.
Re-Framing the Art Market Judith H. Dobrzynski February 22, 2009

Sinclair herself was born in New York in 1948 and raised in Paris, an heiress to Rosenberg’s art fortune.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair Separation Rumors Swirl Tracy McNicoll July 2, 2012

If you are in the market to buy, “Your art budget is somewhere between your grocery budget and your savings budget,” he says.
Aces High: Where to Buy Affordable Art Justin Jones February 14, 2014

They had all the same taste in art and in friendships—in all the arts—and they liked to travel.
The Reluctant Rockefeller Speaks Out Sandra McElwaine September 14, 2013

Historical Examples

If she could have set her imagination free in an art she would have been far safer than she was.
A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens

As for art and the sciences, these did not interest them very much.
Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon

So it is that everywhere the high function of art is to reveal.
The Enjoyment of Art Carleton Noyes

He (or she) who reveals the world of art to them opens heaven to them.
A Treatise on Parents and Children George Bernard Shaw

This much, however, can be said about Japanese art—that it is original.
The Empire of the East H. B. Montgomery


the creation of works of beauty or other special significance
(as modifier): an art movement

the exercise of human skill (as distinguished from nature)
imaginative skill as applied to representations of the natural world or figments of the imagination

the products of man’s creative activities; works of art collectively, esp of the visual arts, sometimes also music, drama, dance, and literature
(as modifier): an art gallery See also arts, fine art

excellence or aesthetic merit of conception or execution as exemplified by such works
any branch of the visual arts, esp painting
(modifier) intended to be artistic or decorative: art needlework

any field using the techniques of art to display artistic qualities: advertising art
(as modifier): an art film

(journalism) photographs or other illustrations in a newspaper, etc
method, facility, or knack: the art of threading a needle, the art of writing letters
the system of rules or principles governing a particular human activity: the art of government
artfulness; cunning
get something down to a fine art, to become highly proficient at something through practice
(archaic) (used with the pronoun thou) a singular form of the present tense (indicative mood) of be1
assisted reproductive technology
a variant of -ard
a male member of a religious community bound by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience related adjective monastic
(sometimes capital) a fancy pigeon having a bald pate and often large feathered feet
Thelonious (Sphere) (θəˈləʊnɪəs). 1920–82, US jazz pianist and composer
a variant spelling of (George) Monck
verb (intransitive) (pres. sing. 1st pers) am (2nd pers) are (3rd pers) is (present:pl) are (past:singular:1st_person) was (2nd pers) were (3rd pers) was (past:plural) were (pres. part) being (past part) been
to have presence in the realm of perceived reality; exist; live: I think, therefore I am, not all that is can be understood
(used in the perfect or past perfect tenses only) to pay a visit; go: have you been to Spain?
to take place; occur: my birthday was last Thursday
(copula) used as a linking verb between the subject of a sentence and its noun or adjective complement or complementing phrase. In this case be expresses the relationship of either essential or incidental equivalence or identity (John is a man; John is a musician) or specifies an essential or incidental attribute (honey is sweet; Susan is angry). It is also used with an adverbial complement to indicate a relationship of location in space or time (Bill is at the office; the dance is on Saturday)
(takes a present participle) forms the progressive present tense: the man is running
(takes a past participle) forms the passive voice of all transitive verbs and (archaically) certain intransitive ones: a good film is being shown on television tonight, I am done
(takes an infinitive) expresses intention, expectation, supposition, or obligation: the president is to arrive at 9.30, you are not to leave before I say so
(takes a past participle) forms the perfect or past perfect tense of certain intransitive verbs of motion, such as go or come: the last train is gone
be that as it may, the facts concerning (something) are of no importance
Chemical symbol
bill of exchange
(in the US) Board of Education
Bachelor of Education
Bachelor of Engineering

early 13c., “skill as a result of learning or practice,” from Old French art (10c.), from Latin artem (nominative ars) “work of art; practical skill; a business, craft,” from PIE *ar-ti- (cf. Sanskrit rtih “manner, mode;” Greek arti “just,” artios “complete, suitable,” artizein “to prepare;” Latin artus “joint;” Armenian arnam “make;” German art “manner, mode”), from root *ar- “fit together, join” (see arm (n.1)).

In Middle English usually with a sense of “skill in scholarship and learning” (c.1300), especially in the seven sciences, or liberal arts. This sense remains in Bachelor of Arts, etc. Meaning “human workmanship” (as opposed to nature) is from late 14c. Sense of “cunning and trickery” first attested c.1600. Meaning “skill in creative arts” is first recorded 1610s; especially of painting, sculpture, etc., from 1660s. Broader sense of the word remains in artless.

Fine arts, “those which appeal to the mind and the imagination” first recorded 1767. Expression art for art’s sake (1824) translates French l’art pour l’art. First record of art critic is from 1847. Arts and crafts “decorative design and handcraft” first attested in the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, founded in London, 1888.

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truths, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned. The revolt of individualism came because the tradition had become degraded, or rather because a spurious copy had been accepted in its stead. [William Butler Yeats]


second person present indicative of be; Old English eart. Also see are (v.).

“produced with conscious artistry,” as opposed to popular or folk, 1890, from art (n.), possibly from influence of German kunstlied “art song” (cf. art film, 1960; art rock, 1968).

Old English munuc “monk” (used also of women), from Proto-Germanic *muniko- (cf. Old Frisian munek, Middle Dutch monic, Old High German munih, Ger. Mönch), an early borrowing from Vulgar Latin *monicus (source of French moine, Spanish monje, Italian monaco), from Late Latin monachus “monk,” originally “religious hermit,” from Ecclesiastical Greek monakhos “monk,” noun use of a classical Greek adjective meaning “solitary,” from monos “alone” (see mono-). For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come.

In England, before the Reformation, the term was not applied to the members of the mendicant orders, who were always called friars. From the 16th c. to the 19th c., however, it was usual to speak of the friars as a class of monks. In recent times the distinction between the terms has been carefully observed by well-informed writers. In French and Ger. the equivalent of monk is applied equally to ‘monks’ and ‘friars.’ [OED]


Old English beon, beom, bion “be, exist, come to be, become, happen,” from Proto-Germanic *biju- “I am, I will be.” This “b-root” is from PIE root *bheue- “to be, exist, grow, come into being,” and in addition to the words in English it yielded German present first and second person singular (bin, bist, from Old High German bim “I am,” bist “thou art”), Latin perfective tenses of esse (fui “I was,” etc.), Old Church Slavonic byti “be,” Greek phu- “become,” Old Irish bi’u “I am,” Lithuanian bu’ti “to be,” Russian byt’ “to be,” etc. It also is behind Sanskrit bhavah “becoming,” bhavati “becomes, happens,” bhumih “earth, world.”

The modern verb to be in its entirety represents the merger of two once-distinct verbs, the “b-root” represented by be and the am/was verb, which was itself a conglomerate. Roger Lass (“Old English”) describes the verb as “a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments,” while Weekley calls it “an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dial[ect]s.” It is the most irregular verb in Modern English and the most common. Collective in all Germanic languages, it has eight different forms in Modern English:

BE (infinitive, subjunctive, imperative)
AM (present 1st person singular)
ARE (present 2nd person singular and all plural)
IS (present 3rd person singular)
WAS (past 1st and 3rd persons singular)
WERE (past 2nd person singular, all plural; subjunctive)
BEING (progressive & present participle; gerund)
BEEN (perfect participle).

The paradigm in Old English was:

1st pres. ic eom
ic beo we sind(on)
we beoð
2nd pres. þu eart
þu bist ge sind(on)
ge beoð
3rd pres. he is
he bið hie sind(on)
hie beoð
1st pret. ic wæs we wæron
2nd pret. þu wære ge waeron
3rd pret. heo wæs hie wæron
1st pret. subj. ic wære we wæren
2nd pret. subj. þu wære ge wæren
3rd pret. subj. Egcferð wære hie wæren

The “b-root” had no past tense in Old English, but often served as future tense of am/was. In 13c. it took the place of the infinitive, participle and imperative forms of am/was. Later its plural forms (we beth, ye ben, they be) became standard in Middle English and it made inroads into the singular (I be, thou beest, he beth), but forms of are claimed this turf in the 1500s and replaced be in the plural. For the origin and evolution of the am/was branches of this tangle, see am and was.

That but this blow Might be the be all, and the end all. [“Macbeth” I.vii.5]

The symbol for the element beryllium.
The symbol for beryllium.


A photograph or photographs of criminals, esp wanted criminals; mug shot: Art depicting the Most Wanted List is on post office bulletin boards (Police)

Related Terms

state of the art, tit art


A monkey (1843+)
A Chinese or Chinese-American: known to their Occidental neighbors, the Irish especially, as monks (1925+)

A real-time functional language. It timestamps each data value when it was created.
[“Applicative Real-Time Programming”, M. Broy, PROC IFIP 1983, N-H].
airborne radiation thermometer
assisted reproductive technology
excess burst
Bachelor of Education
Bachelor of Engineering
barium enema
board eligible
Board of Education
Baumé scale

fine art
state of the art

be a credit to
be along
be big on
be bound to
be busted
be down
be had
be in on
be into
be my guest
be off
be on
be on to
be oneself
be that as it may
be the death of
be the end of one
be the making of

also see:
let be


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