The highest level of development, as of a device, technique, or scientific field, achieved at a particular time: “Forty or fifty years ago the state of the art in radio was represented by crackling noises coming from a console of . . . Aztec-temple shape”(New Yorker).
The highest level of development, very up-to-date, as in This new television set reflects the state of the art in screen technology. Despite including the word art, this term originated in technology, and its first recorded use appears in a 1910 book on the gas turbine. Today it is often used adjectivally, as in This is a state-of-the-art camera, and sometimes very loosely, as in That movie is state-of-the-art Woody Allen.