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

Doris’s ability to collect all these interesting Middle Eastern artifacts and furniture and such took me back to Dawnridge [estate in Los Angeles] by Tony Duquette. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "This Is What a Dream Apartment by Neiman Marcus's Ken Downing Looks Like," 15 Oct. 2018 In a windowless room on the UNR campus, White shows me dozens of Styrofoam trays containing tiny artifacts. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Vanishing City," 13 Aug. 2018 Below the Surface allows visitors to not only examine 20,000 artifacts, but arrange them in personalized virtual display cases. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "New Website Unearths Amsterdam’s History Via 700,000 Artifacts Spanning 5,000 Years," 2 July 2018 As technology and society change and grow, cultural artifacts necessarily move through this transition. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "What we lost when we lost Blockbuster Video," 29 Aug. 2018 Enjoy art, music, dance and cultural artifacts from Hawaii, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji and more. April Orcutt, latimes.com, "Here's what to do the weekend of June 1-3: It's all rounded up for you with a cherry on top," 27 May 2018 The confusion over the identity of Rosie’s flesh-and-blood forebear stems partly from the fact that the name Rosie the Riveter has been applied to more than one cultural artifact. Margalit Fox, The Seattle Times, "Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter, dies at 96 in Longview," 22 Jan. 2018 In fact, cassette tapes are remarkably similar to another historic cultural artifact that dates back much further than the 1980s: Wooly Willy. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Cassette Tapes Are Back, Don't You Dare Call Them Obsolete," 12 Nov. 2018 Carbon dating helps us understand when cultural artifacts were made and when archeological samples were deposited. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Video: How do we figure out that rocks are billions of years old?," 30 Oct. 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

7 Feb 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on artifact

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with artifact

Spanish Central: Translation of artifact

Nglish: Translation of artifact for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of artifact for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about artifact

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