noun ar·ti·fact \ˈär-ti-ˌfakt\

Definition of artifact

  1. 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 artifactsb :  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 Pollanc :  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

  2. 2a :  a product of artificial character (as in a scientific test) due usually to extraneous (such as human) agencyb :  an electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic wave that arises from sources other than the heart or brainc :  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


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

Examples of artifact in a sentence

  1. The caves contained many prehistoric artifacts.

  2. an artifact from the Colonial period

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.

Origin and Etymology of artifact

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

First Known Use: 1644

Medical Dictionary


noun ar·ti·fact
variants: or chiefly British



Medical Definition of artifact

  1. 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. 2:  an electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic wave that arises from sources other than the heart or brain


or chiefly British


\ˌärt-ə-ˈfak-chə(-wə)l, -ˈfaksh-wəl\play adjective

Seen and Heard

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feeling or affected by lethargy

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