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 Most bagels are ephemeral; this one is an artifact. Washington Post, 21 July 2021 The scroll is just an artifact, the physical trace of an intangible act. Jonathon Keats, Forbes, 28 May 2021 Despite its cultural significance to the Inca imperial city, the artifact itself has remained conspicuously absent from Cusco. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 June 2021 Smith argues that the distribution of lakes are an artifact of nature that can't be shifted in response to changing demographics. Star Tribune, 10 June 2021 Bidders and buyers will also receive a physical artifact featuring a looping video on a museum-quality screen of the highlight for display. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 24 June 2021 Is the goal not just to get an artifact, but to curate something that has embedded in it the meaning of the thing itself? CBS News, 20 June 2021 Yard’s work will become a digital artifact that documents a piece of internet history. Rashi Shrivastava, Forbes, 18 June 2021 The family gave the sword, made in the 1600s, as a treasured artifact, a remembrance of a soldier who fought the indigenous Pequots. Kenneth R. Gosselin, courant.com, 8 June 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near artifact

articulus

artifact

artifactitious

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Statistics for artifact

Last Updated

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artifact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifact. Accessed 1 Aug. 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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