artifice

noun
ar·​ti·​fice | \ ˈär-tə-fəs How to pronounce artifice (audio) \

Definition of artifice

1a : clever or artful skill : ingenuity … believing that characters had to be created from within rather than with artifice.— Garson Kanin
b : an ingenious device or expedient
2a : an artful stratagem : trick … revising the state's constitution through a series of legal stratagems and artifices— W. Haywood Burns
b : false or insincere behavior social artifice

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Choose the Right Synonym for artifice

trick, ruse, stratagem, maneuver, artifice, wile, feint mean an indirect means to gain an end. trick may imply deception, roguishness, illusion, and either an evil or harmless end. the tricks of the trade ruse stresses an attempt to mislead by a false impression. the ruses of smugglers stratagem implies a ruse used to entrap, outwit, circumvent, or surprise an opponent or enemy. the stratagem-filled game maneuver suggests adroit and skillful avoidance of difficulty. last-minute maneuvers to avert bankruptcy artifice implies ingenious contrivance or invention. the clever artifices of the stage wile suggests an attempt to entrap or deceive with false allurements. used all of his wiles to ingratiate himself feint implies a diversion or distraction of attention away from one's real intent. a feint toward the enemy's left flank

art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised. art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power. the art of choosing the right word skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency. the skill of a glassblower cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing. a mystery plotted with great cunning artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature. believed realism in film could be achieved only by artifice craft may imply expertness in workmanship. the craft of a master goldsmith

The Difference Between Art and Artifice

Do great actors display artifice or art? Sometimes a bit of both. Artifice stresses creative skill or intelligence, but also implies a sense of falseness and trickery. Art generally rises above such falseness, suggesting instead an unanalyzable creative force. Actors may rely on some of each, but the personae they display in their roles are usually artificial creations. Therein lies a lexical connection between art and artifice. Artifice derives from artificium, Latin for artifice (that root also gave English artificial). Artificium in turn developed from ars, the Latin root underlying the word art (and related terms such as artist and artisan).

Examples of artifice in a Sentence

He spoke without artifice or pretense. The whole story was just an artifice to win our sympathy.
Recent Examples on the Web Despite his distaste for the artifice of L.A., Joe quickly decides that Love is everything that Beck wasn’t: brilliant, family-oriented, and, most of all, real. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "How to Make a Self-Aware Show About a Serial Killer," 30 Dec. 2019 Even with such talented technicians behind the scenes, 1917 is the sum of its artifice and somehow less. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch (and Skip) in Theaters and on Netflix This Weekend," 27 Dec. 2019 But the resulting air of artifice is not accidental and feeds into the image’s meanings. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Kerry James Marshall’s ‘Untitled (policeman)’ shines a light on race, among other things," 6 Nov. 2019 All the artifice, draped in approximately 17 alternating layers of irony and earnestness, allows The Politician to create a home for stranger-than-fiction truths. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "What Ryan Murphy’s The Politician Gets Right About the Elite World of LA Private Schools," 19 Oct. 2019 The international outrage to him was artifice, whipped up to delegitimize Bolsonaro. Washington Post, "Arsonists are torching the Amazon. This elite team of firefighters stands in their way.," 9 Oct. 2019 In other instances, her artifice for the camera has backfired. cleveland, "Internet sensation Lele Pons discusses tiptoeing on social media’s tightrope," 12 Oct. 2019 How does this flat surface, without any intervention, any artifice, produce the most beautiful three-dimensional images? Jessica Gross, Longreads, "Mathematics as a Cultural Force," 27 Sep. 2019 Instead of evoking the felt experience of inner life, Ellmann seems to be creating a stylized braid of conscious and unconscious thought—an artifice that’s aware of its own construction. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "Can One Sentence Capture All of Life?," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'artifice.' 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 artifice

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for artifice

Middle French, from Latin artificium, from artific-, artifex artificer, from Latin art-, ars + facere — see artifact

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Time Traveler for artifice

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The first known use of artifice was in 1540

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Artifice.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifice. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for artifice

artifice

noun
How to pronounce artifice (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of artifice

: dishonest or insincere behavior or speech that is meant to deceive someone

artifice

noun
ar·​ti·​fice | \ ˈär-tə-fəs How to pronounce artifice (audio) \

Kids Definition of artifice

: a clever trick or device She used every artifice to avoid work.

artifice

noun
ar·​ti·​fice | \ ˈär-tə-fəs How to pronounce artifice (audio) \

Legal Definition of artifice

: a clever strategy usually intended to deceive or defraud

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