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

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 Brexit, like Queen Elizabeth, is often explained away as an artifact of latent British imperialism. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 18 Sep. 2022 Traditionally, wages grow about 1% a year faster than consumer prices — that’s an artifact of improving standards of living over time. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2022 Initially dismissed as simply an artifact of the Covid shutdown and as vastly exaggerated by conservative media, the rise in violent crime is clear, and voters are highly concerned about it. Ruy Teixeira, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 The team that identified its last artifact earliest would win. David Montgomery, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2021 The government plans to keep just one artifact—a rare Brazilian gold coin that circulated in England in the 1720s—and will add it to the collection of one of its museums. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Sep. 2022 Over the weekend, working under Abbass’ direction, the team found its first possible artifact: a brick. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2022 But that’s an artifact of high infant mortality rates in that era, and completely irrelevant to the fiscal health or purpose of Social Security. Los Angeles Times, 5 July 2022 But on her way to perfect her costume, Kamala also happens upon an ancient family artifact—one that unlocks her own superpowers, and sets her on a hero's journey and origin story of her own. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 8 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near artifact

articulus

artifact

artifactitious

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Statistics for artifact

Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Artifact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifact. Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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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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