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

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 it 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 Stephen is pricked by both this desire to master and a melancholy revolt against the artifice of knowledge. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 7 Feb. 2022 Everything in them seems to fall into place and connect naturally, while the literary artifice through which this naturalness is achieved remains hidden from the reader. Pankaj Mishra, The New York Review of Books, 20 Oct. 2021 Through their elegant artifice, the photographs achieved a more truthful narrative of the banlieues. The New Yorker, 23 Apr. 2022 Housewives is best when this environment pressures the women to let down their artifice and let something true bubble to the surface. Brian Moylan, Vulture, 8 Dec. 2021 There’s nothing disingenuous about Before Brit, but there’s a lot of artifice that comes with a life on the stage and over a decade of court-control. Raven Smith, Vogue, 13 Apr. 2022 Similar to those younger filmmakers’ work, Bogdanovich’s films often contained an exterior artifice that could be pierced to reveal raw emotions and a deep humanity. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2022 But here, there is no artifice, and somehow the blanket makes the thing that really matters — the genuine suffering of the woman upon it — even more unbearable to contemplate. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 The conventions of the Hollywood biopic are so entrenched that Adam McKay has carved out a lucrative niche primarily in acknowledging the artifice (not fixing or updating it, mind you). Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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artifactitious

artifice

artificed

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Artifice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifice. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for artifice

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

More from Merriam-Webster on artifice

Nglish: Translation of artifice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of artifice for Arabic Speakers

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