Definition of artifice
artifice was our Word of the Day on 05/02/2010. Hear the podcast!
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 of artifice from the Web
A measure of his achievement is that Achebe found an African voice in English that is so natural its artifice eludes us.
The fireworks, the razzmatazz, the artifice do not add to the sense of occasion.
But it was presented with no sense of irony, and with a great deal of pseudoscientific artifice.
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.
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).
Origin and Etymology of artifice
Middle French, from Latin artificium, from artific-, artifex artificer, from Latin art-, ars + facere —see artifact
First Known Use: 1540
Synonym Discussion of artifice
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
ARTIFICE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of artifice for English Language Learners
: dishonest or insincere behavior or speech that is meant to deceive someone
ARTIFICE Defined for Kids
Definition of artifice for Students
: a clever trick or device She used every artifice to avoid work.
Legal Definition of artifice
: a clever strategy usually intended to deceive or defraud
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up artifice? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).