Meaning of “art” in the English Dictionary

"art" in British English

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uk /ɑːt/ us /ɑːrt/

art noun (EXPRESSION)

A2 [ U ] the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings:

Can television and pop music really be considered art?
I enjoyed the ballet, but it wasn't really great art.

A2 [ U ] the activity of painting, drawing, and making sculpture:

Art and English were my best subjects at school.
an art teacher

A2 [ U ] paintings, drawings, and sculptures:

The gallery has an excellent collection of modern art.
an exhibition of Native American art
Peggy Guggenheim was one of the 20th century's great art collectors.
The Frick is an art gallery in New York.

B2 [ C ] an activity through which people express particular ideas:

Drama is an art that is traditionally performed in a theatre.
Do you regard film as entertainment or as an art?
She is doing a course in the performing arts.
the arts

More examples

  • Most people on the board of governors have an arts degree.
  • The government announced today that it is to cut funding for the arts for next year.
  • He was accomplished in all the arts.
  • He wanted science students to take an interest in the arts, and to this end he ran literature classes at his home on Sunday afternoons.
  • She was recently appointed Dean of the Faculty of Arts at my university.

the making or showing or performance of painting, acting, dancing, and music:

More government money is needed for the arts.
public interest in the arts

More examples

  • I know enough about art to recognize a masterpiece when I see one.
  • We went to a lecture on Italian art.
  • He gave a talk on the representation of women in 19th-century art.
  • He's an expert on 15th-century Italian art.
  • He is skilled in the art of public debate.


/ɑːt/ /ɑːrt/ old use

(Definition of “art” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"art" in American English

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artnoun [ U ]

us /ɑrt/

the making or doing of something whose purpose is to bring pleasure to people through their enjoyment of what is beautiful and interesting, or things often made for this purpose, such as paintings, drawings, or sculptures:

American/French/Japanese art
an art museum/gallery

An art is also a skill or ability:

He never learned the art of saying "Thank you."

(Definition of “art” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)