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 artifact (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 Unlike Memorial Bridge, which came later, the Key Bridge isn’t pretending to be an artifact of an earlier era. Washington Post, "Washington is a city of great bridges and terrible bridges. These are their stories.," 1 Apr. 2021 The London museum revealed the artifact this month in its latest Treasure Act Annual Report. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Was This Ornament of a Knight Emerging From a Snail Shell a ‘Medieval Meme’?," 24 Mar. 2021 Globe-trotting archaeologist Indiana Jones races the Nazis for possession of a legendary religious artifact. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘My Fair Lady’; ‘Marry Poppins’," 19 Mar. 2021 The last image in this adventure is not of our hero in all his swashbuckling glory, but an acknowledgement that in a flawed system, an incredibly powerful, valuable religious artifact is just another piece of inventory. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History," 22 Feb. 2021 Indy and a young adventurer must ferret out a powerful artifact and keep it out of the hands of a deadly Soviet agent. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘The Searchers’; ‘Forrest Gump’," 12 Mar. 2021 The piece is actually a Chinese artifact that was made during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Jada Jackson, House Beautiful, "This Ceramic Bowl Was Bought at a Yard Sale for $35—It’s Actually a Royal Chinese Artifact Worth $500,000," 5 Mar. 2021 Clearly inspired by Blue Velvet but without David Lynch’s control of tone, Siesta is still fascinating as an artifact of the time right after when Blue Velvet came out and no one had the slightest idea of what to do with it. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "Every Jodie Foster Movie Performance, Ranked," 19 Feb. 2021 As more archaeologists study the Nebra Sky Disc, evidence continues to build for its legitimacy as an ancient artifact. Erin O'hare, Smithsonian Magazine, "Is This Ancient Map of the Cosmos Younger Than Previously Thought?," 17 Sep. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of artifact was in 1644

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Statistics for artifact

Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artifact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifact. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for artifact

artifact

noun
ar·​ti·​fact
variants: or chiefly British artefact \ ˈärt-​ə-​ˌfakt How to pronounce artifact (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 artifact (audio) \ adjective

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