artifact

noun
ar·ti·fact | \ ˈär-ti-ˌfakt \

Definition of artifact 

1a : a usually simple object (such as a tool or ornament) showing human workmanship or modification as distinguished from a natural object 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 : a product of artificial character (as in a scientific test) due usually to extraneous (such as human) agency

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.Consumer Reports

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Other words from artifact

artifactual \ˌär-ti-ˈfak-chə(-wə)l, -ˈfak-shwəl, -chü-əl \ adjective

Did You Know?

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 story of how these artifacts wound up on display is almost as fascinating as the exhibit itself. Chris Gray, Houston Chronicle, "Expansive exhibit highlights Houston’s quiet but vital role during Civil War," 11 July 2018 The most important artifacts and memorabilia — including an imposing statue of the Confederate general himself — have been earmarked for future display in a small museum in the school’s library, a space expected to be renovated by December. Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, "Lee High School’s mountain of memories to be auctioned," 11 July 2018 The private institution has housed contemporary collections and ancient artifacts, and hosted the work of international and local artists alike. Zahria Rogers, The Courier-Journal, "Speed Museum's free tours make art accessible for low-income schools," 26 June 2018 There are Indian artifacts, decorative screens and artwork throughout as well as private rooms and dining nooks for gatherings big and small. Jane Donahue, Naperville Sun, "Indian Harvest brings savory cuisine to the suburbs," 6 June 2018 During the tour, The Wood, which houses numerous Native American artifacts and a bird collection, will feature an art show and a teacup auction. Courant Community, "Community News For The South Windsor Edition," 5 June 2018 The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1994; peruse the many historic maritime artifacts in the museum. Debi Eimer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Never hear 'I'm bored' again: 40 things to do for fun this summer if you live on the North Shore," 23 May 2018 Nearly all of the artifacts in the museum have been donated by private citizens or service people with Camp Blanding ties, including armored troop carriers, field ambulances and airplanes. Amy Aumick, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Explore Florida's Clay County: Military history at Camp Blanding," 7 May 2018 Hobby Lobby will return 3,800 of these artifacts to Iraq on Wednesday, according to NPR. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Hobby Lobby Bought Thousands of Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts in 2010. Now It's Sending Them Back.," 2 May 2018

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

Latin arte by skill (ablative of art-, ars skill) + factum, neuter of factus, past participle of facere to do — more at arm, do

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Statistics for artifact

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for artifact

The first known use of artifact was in 1644

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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

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