SINCE1828
artifact noun
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ar·​ti·​fact | \ ˈär-ti-ˌfakt
\
Definition of artifact
1a
especially : an object remaining from a particular period
caves containing prehistoric artifacts
b
: something characteristic of or resulting from a particular human institution, period, trend, or individual
… morality is an artifact of human culture, devised to help us negotiate social relations.
— Michael Pollan
c
: something or someone arising from or associated with an earlier time especially when regarded as no longer appropriate, relevant, or important
… that over-simplified but eloquent quality that keeps Jefferson alive for us while Washington and Adams, his superiors in so many other respects, are artifacts of a quaint and lost world.
— Jack Rakove
2a
b: an electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic wave that arises from sources other than the heart or brain
c
: a defect in an image (such as a digital photograph) that appears as a result of the technology and methods used to create and process the image
… can produce a very good picture, but there will be some loss of detail and some color artifacts such as adjacent colors bleeding into each other.
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Other Words from artifact
artifactual \ ˌär-​ti-​ˈfak-​chə(-​wə)l
, -​ˈfak-​shwəl , -​chü-​əl \ adjective
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One of the things that make humans unique is their ability to make and use tools, and ever since the first rough stone axes began to appear about 700,000 years ago, human cultures have left behind artifacts from which we've tried to draw a picture of their everyday life. The roots of artifact mean basically "something made with skill;" thus, a mere stone that was used for pounding isn't an artifact, since it wasn't shaped by humans for its purpose—unlike a ram's horn that was polished and given a brass mouthpiece and was blown as part of a religious ritual.
Examples of artifact in a Sentence
The caves contained many prehistoric artifacts.
an artifact from the Colonial period
Recent Examples on the Web
The tool wall is an artifact that puts the work back into artwork.
— Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 June 2021
The knuckleball pitcher has vanished from the major leagues, an artifact like paper tickets and contact hitters.
— Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2021
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'artifact.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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First Known Use of artifact
1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1a
History and Etymology for artifact
borrowed from New Latin arte factus "made by human agency," from Latin arte "by skill or craft" (ablative of art-, ars "acquired skill, craftmanship") + factus, past participle of facere "to make, bring about, do" — more at ART entry 1, FACT
NOTE: The usual American spelling artifact—opposed to artefact in the British Isles and elsewhere—shows assimilation to Latin compounds with arti- (see ARTIFICE).
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Time Traveler for artifact
The first known use of artifact was in 1644
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Dictionary Entries Near artifact
articulatory
articulite
articulus
artifact
artifactitious
artifice
artificed
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Statistics for artifact
Last Updated
19 Jun 2021
Look-up Popularity
Top 1% of words
Cite this Entry
“Artifact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifact. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.
Style: MLA
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More Definitions for artifact
artifact noun
ar·​ti·​fact
variants: or chiefly British artefact \ ˈärt-​ə-​ˌfakt
\
Medical Definition of artifact
1
: a product of artificial character due to extraneous (as human) agency
specifically : a product or formation in a microscopic preparation of a fixed tissue or cell that is caused by manipulation or reagents and is not indicative of actual structural relationships
2: an electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic wave that arises from sources other than the heart or brain
Other Words from artifact
artifactual or chiefly British artefactual \ˌärt-​ə-​ˈfak-​chə(-​wə)l, -​ˈfaksh-​wəl
\adjective
More from Merriam-Webster on artifact
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for artifact
Nglish: Translation of artifact for Spanish Speakers
Britannica English: Translation of artifact for Arabic Speakers
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about artifact
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