The fine arts
Art Art ([aum]rt), n. [F. art, L. ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to E. arm, aristocrat, article.] 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses of life; the application of knowledge or power to practical purposes. [1913 Webster]

Blest with each grace of nature and of art. --Pope. [1913 Webster]

2. A system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of certain actions; a system of principles and rules for attaining a desired end; method of doing well some special work; -- often contradistinguished from science or speculative principles; as, the art of building or engraving; the art of war; the art of navigation. [1913 Webster]

Science is systematized knowledge . . . Art is knowledge made efficient by skill. --J. F. Genung. [1913 Webster]

3. The systematic application of knowledge or skill in effecting a desired result. Also, an occupation or business requiring such knowledge or skill. [1913 Webster]

The fishermen can't employ their art with so much success in so troubled a sea. --Addison. [1913 Webster]

4. The application of skill to the production of the beautiful by imitation or design, or an occupation in which skill is so employed, as in painting and sculpture; one of the fine arts; as, he prefers art to literature. [1913 Webster]

5. pl. Those branches of learning which are taught in the academical course of colleges; as, master of arts. [1913 Webster]

In fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts. --Pope. [1913 Webster]

Four years spent in the arts (as they are called in colleges) is, perhaps, laying too laborious a foundation. --Goldsmith. [1913 Webster]

6. Learning; study; applied knowledge, science, or letters. [Archaic] [1913 Webster]

So vast is art, so narrow human wit. --Pope. [1913 Webster]

7. Skill, dexterity, or the power of performing certain actions, acquired by experience, study, or observation; knack; as, a man has the art of managing his business to advantage. [1913 Webster]

8. Skillful plan; device. [1913 Webster]

They employed every art to soothe . . . the discontented warriors. --Macaulay. [1913 Webster]

9. Cunning; artifice; craft. [1913 Webster]

Madam, I swear I use no art at all. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

Animals practice art when opposed to their superiors in strength. --Crabb. [1913 Webster]

10. The black art; magic. [Obs.] --Shak. [1913 Webster]

{Art and part} (Scots Law), share or concern by aiding and abetting a criminal in the perpetration of a crime, whether by advice or by assistance in the execution; complicity. [1913 Webster]

Note: The arts are divided into various classes.

{The useful arts},

{The mechanical arts}, or

{The industrial arts} are those in which the hands and body are more concerned than the mind; as in making clothes and utensils. These are called trades.

{The fine arts} are those which have primarily to do with imagination and taste, and are applied to the production of what is beautiful. They include poetry, music, painting, engraving, sculpture, and architecture; but the term is often confined to painting, sculpture, and architecture.

{The liberal arts} (artes liberales, the higher arts, which, among the Romans, only freemen were permitted to pursue) were, in the Middle Ages, these seven branches of learning, -- grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. In modern times the liberal arts include the sciences, philosophy, history, etc., which compose the course of academical or collegiate education. Hence, degrees in the arts; master and bachelor of arts. [1913 Webster]

In America, literature and the elegant arts must grow up side by side with the coarser plants of daily necessity. --Irving. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Science; literature; aptitude; readiness; skill; dexterity; adroitness; contrivance; profession; business; trade; calling; cunning; artifice; duplicity. See {Science}. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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