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 This allowed the team to identify stuck pixels in the modern digital data or to see imaging artifacts from nearby bright stars. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Finding stars that vanished—by scouring old photos," 24 Dec. 2019 Other artifacts from the Elizabethan era have been grabbing attention in recent years. Fox News, "Elizabeth I unmasked as author of mysterious manuscript," 30 Nov. 2019 More recently, archaeologists have been diving to the bottom of the Tollense River, where shifting currents have peeled away layers of mud to reveal new artifacts from the conflict. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian, "What a Warrior’s Lost Toolkit Says About the Oldest Known Battle in Europe," 16 Oct. 2019 Proceeds go toward the construction of a new building to house artifacts from local schools and the recreation of a classroom and façade from Edwards Middle School. Sam Boyer, cleveland.com, "Everyone can stay busy with all the events coming up: Whit & Whimsey," 30 Aug. 2019 Educators will be able to highlight some of the museum's artifacts by showing visitors reindeer antlers, pelts, clothing, a sled and harness, and a cradle used by the indigenous Sami people from northern Scandinavia. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Meet Door County Sled Dogs, see how spiders survive winter and learn about indigenous cultures at Milwaukee Public Museum's Snow Day," 7 Jan. 2020 Tennessee Memphis: Elvis Presley’s Graceland is planning an auction of artifacts to be held during the late entertainer’s 85th birthday celebration Jan. 8. USA TODAY, "Butter Gritty, radish stink, goatnapping: News from around our 50 states," 3 Jan. 2020 Back in the 1960s, archaeologists discovered a trove of ancient artifacts along the northern coast of Oregon, an area once occupied by Chinookan- and Salish-speaking populations. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "These Miniature Tools Taught Ancient Children How to Hunt and Fight," 21 Dec. 2019 LiveScience reports that hundreds of Maya artifacts that may have been used in ritual animal sacrifices have also been discovered at the bottom of a Guatemalan lake. Fox News, "Grisly ancient skeletons may be dismembered prisoners of war, experts reveal," 12 Dec. 2019

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

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Artifact.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifacts. Accessed 26 January 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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