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

Here are three makeup artists doing just that, fusing runway artifice with the everyday. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "These 3 Makeup Artists Are Bringing Serious Cool to the Runways—And Rewriting Beauty Rules at the Same Time," 6 Mar. 2019 Fashion was becoming the exploding plastic inevitable: Art, artifice, reality, and revolution were all converging, and raced to keep up. Stephen Mooallem, Harper's BAZAAR, "Pop Goes Bazaar: A Look Back at the Magazine in the 1960s," 9 June 2017 But Scottie’s obliviousness to his own professional failings speaks to his egomania, and the artifice of his situation. John Anderson, WSJ, "The Heights of Obsession," 22 Feb. 2019 Leaving aside the fake nails and boob implants, with Cardi the artifice is in the artwork. Harper's BAZAAR, "Cardi B Opens Up About Her "Rags to Riches" Cinderella Story," 7 Feb. 2019 But there’s also a feverish focus on exuberant color, artifice-laden compositions and perceptual plays that slip back and forth across the thresholds between reality and fantasy, nature and culture. Gayle Clemans, The Seattle Times, "Artists at Winston Wächter gallery construct enticing ‘Summer Dreams’," 30 July 2018 Staycation embodies that wince-inducing sense of artifice. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Made-Up Travel Words We Love to Hate," 18 July 2018 Beneath all the artifice, though, the same old turkey remains. Elizabeth G. Dunn And Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, "The Battle for Thanksgiving Heats Up," 31 Oct. 2018 The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Met Gala 2019 Theme: Everything You Need to Know About "Camp: Notes on Fashion"," 11 Oct. 2018

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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Last Updated

5 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for artifice

The first known use of artifice was in 1540

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More Definitions for artifice

artifice

noun

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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More from Merriam-Webster on artifice

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for artifice

Spanish Central: Translation of artifice

Nglish: Translation of artifice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of artifice for Arabic Speakers

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