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Before this century I had never heard the word optics used to refer to the way a situation is perceived. E.g., "The official hiring his son created terrible optics."

And when I first heard it used that way I found it quite grating – perhaps because I have an engineering background and often discuss the science of optics and optical devices.

Can anyone find indications of the emergence or earliest acceptance of the use of the word to mean "appearance?"

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