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

While a handful of artifacts are on display, thousands more, many of them tributes to the 58 people who died while attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival, are being archived by museum staff. Jay Jones, latimes.com, "Las Vegas' past, from a classic chapel to vintage railroad cars, on display at little-known museum," 5 July 2018 In Village Hall, a lively display of artifacts traces Buchanan’s history. Susan Hodara, New York Times, "Buchanan, N.Y.: A Waterfront Village Braces for Big Changes," 27 June 2018 Earlier in the day, singer Phil Collins, who has donated his collection of artifacts to the Alamo, was in San Antonio for unveiling of bronze models depicting the evolution of the mission and military fortress over more than a century. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, "Meeting on Alamo plan turns heated," 19 June 2018 Dozens of artifacts were discovered, then sealed up in paper bags and kept at the Alabama State Repository. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Americans have been lighting up for more than 3000 years, ancient pipe reveals," 15 June 2018 Facing her wall of artifacts—pottery, bracelets, and necklaces dating back to the Song dynasty (a.d. Michael Lapointe, The Atlantic, "The Twisted Tale of the World’s Largest Pearl," 11 May 2018 Both the Museum of London and the National Football Museum in Manchester have declared their desire to acquire Mr. Southgate’s waistcoat and officially enshrine it as a cultural artifact. New York Times, "How Gareth Southgate Made the Waistcoat a Surprise World Cup M.V.P.," 13 July 2018 One room over, Wilson shows me the most impressive new toy in the group's digitization toolkit, one that arrived just three days earlier: A room-sized analog artifact known as an optical comparator. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "A Landmark Legal Shift Opens Pandora’s Box for DIY Guns," 10 July 2018 The irony is, Solo, keeper of an iconic cultural artifact, would never again have as clean a link to pop culture. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "That red plastic cup is a Chicago original. Proceed to party.," 29 June 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

17 Oct 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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