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 Researchers held hostage by North Korea found a mysterious alien artifact on a fictional island. Washington Post, "‘Crysis’ runs on a Nintendo handheld. This should be front page news.," 31 July 2020 Surely, this is an artifact of the ease of measuring certain costs—fees for notifying victims, paying for credit monitoring, etc.—versus the harder-to-measure, deleterious effects of industrial espionage. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "What getting hacked will cost you ($3.86 million, approximately)," 29 July 2020 Her book, tracing the history of the paper ballot with a wealth of reproductions of electoral artifact from the early 19th century to 2018. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "The history of the US ballot is a fascinating journey through the making of a democracy," 2 July 2020 The July 14-15 online sale of the timely artifact by Alexander Historical Auctions comes as the two superpowers are scrambling to deny reports that Putin put a bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Auction: One-of-a-kind Putin-Trump signed photo from shocking Helsinki summit," 29 June 2020 Statewide, the number of COVID-19 tests coming back positive jumped from 7% to 11% in just a week, showing that the increase in cases is real, Troisi said, not an artifact of extra testing. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, "No turning back for Florida, Texas? Why the next two weeks are 'critical' for US, Fauci warns," 25 June 2020 The Egyptian government registered the statue as an artifact in 2019. Washington Post, "Plan to bring back Suez Canal statue stirs debate in Egypt," 7 July 2020 Among the many fights, legal victories, and historic moments that mark this evolution, there is an artifact that stands out as a record of the journey: the electoral ballot. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "The history of the US ballot is a fascinating journey through the making of a democracy," 2 July 2020 Early also provided a lesson in something that irks both scientists and tribal citizens – amateur artifact collecting. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Tribes' human remains and cultural items have been scattered across the U.S. Here's how they get returned," 27 June 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

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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Time Traveler for artifact

Time Traveler

The first known use of artifact was in 1644

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Statistics for artifact

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Artifact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifact. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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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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