artifact

noun
ar·​ti·​fact | \ ˈär-ti-ˌfakt How to pronounce artifact (audio) \

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 How to pronounce artifactual (audio) , -​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

Different topics will be discussed each week with interesting artifacts and even the occasional live animal. Sun-Sentinel.com, "events by county," 28 Mar. 2018 The desk and dresser are loaded with even more artifacts, including a giant stereo, a stack of photography books, a collection of teacups, and an electric toothbrush. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Photos of Prince Harry's High School Dorm Room Resurface," 29 Aug. 2018 After the Royal Yacht was decommissioned in the late ’90s, Prince Philip redecorated a space with his favorite artifacts from the ship. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "The Rich History of Frogmore, the Location for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Wedding Reception," 22 Mar. 2018 Part of the revolution was about destroying artifacts, destroying this other, ancient history of Egypt, so that religious history could be the only one. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "Can Egypt Convince the World That It Is Starting Over?," 19 Mar. 2019 Adjacent to the gala dinner was the museum’s Chinese wings, which contained artifacts from eras belonging to Dynasties Shang, Ming, Qing, and more. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "The Bowers Museum Opens Its Guo Pei Couture Exhibition With a Festive Gala," 18 Mar. 2019 Other artifacts can also include equipment, which can make your creatures even stronger. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "How to Play 'Magic: The Gathering': Everything You Need to Know," 19 Feb. 2019 Tests indicate traces of cacao on artifacts from an archaeological site in Ecuador, according to a study published Monday. Candice Choi, The Seattle Times, "How old is cacao? New research pushes back date," 31 Oct. 2018 Blake and his colleagues examined numerous ceramic artifacts from a Mayo-Chinchipe site in Ecuador known as Santa Ana-La Florida, first discovered by archaeologists in 2002. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chocolate has an even earlier origin than we thought, new study finds," 29 Oct. 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

16 May 2019

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 How to pronounce artefact (audio) \

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 How to pronounce artefactual (audio) \ adjective

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one that collects or salvages junk

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