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 Reviewers often compared her fiction — with its eye for the domestic and its concern with the artifice of a certain social set — to that of Henry James and, in particular, Jane Austen. Margalit Fox, New York Times, "Alison Lurie, Tart-Voiced Novelist of Manners, Dies at 94," 3 Dec. 2020 Still, problems like this take the artifice of the game's facade and throw it right in your face. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Cyberpunk 2077 is equal parts beautiful and messy," 7 Dec. 2020 The story unfolds over a sweltering hot day in 1927 Chicago, briefly evoked with outdoor sets that have a glorious studio-backlot artifice. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "In ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ Chadwick Boseman gives his final and finest performance (review)," 25 Nov. 2020 And the charm, wholly distinct from the brittle, moneyed artifice of Roger Moore, a later incarnation of Sir Ian Fleming’s idea of the male paragon with the license to kill. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Sean Connery appreciation: So much more than James Bond, including an Oscar-winning role as wised-up Chicago cop," 31 Oct. 2020 As a viewer, the artifice that went into producing reality TV always bothered me. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Reality TV' helped shape Donald Trump's image as it blurred the lines of reality," 7 Oct. 2020 And consider, too, the language of social media, which uses terms of intimacy and familiarity to create the illusion of human connection despite the artifice of the medium. Maya Phillips, New York Times, "‘The Social Network’ 10 Years Later: A Grim Online Life Foretold," 5 Oct. 2020 The survey, called Project Ozma, saw no sign of artifice, such as an intense spike squeezed into a narrow frequency band. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "How big money is powering a massive hunt for alien intelligence," 10 Sep. 2020 The movie, for all its Marvelous artifice, both asserts the Black identity of superheroic characters and of American pop culture at large, while also joining American Blackness to the heritage of African culture. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Lived-In Grace of Chadwick Boseman," 29 Aug. 2020

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

borrowed from Anglo-French & Middle French, "trade, craft, craftsmanship, contrivance," borrowed from Latin artificium "artistry, craftsmanship, craft, craftiness, cunning," from artific-, artifex "practitioner of an art, specialist, craftsman, creator" (from art-, ars "acquired skill, craftsmanship" + -fic-, -fex, agentive derivative of facere "to make, bring about, do") + -ium, denominal or deverbal suffix of function or state — more at art entry 1, fact

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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

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artifice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifice. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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