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

The old Protestant primacy of the Word — the primacy of language in conveying God’s beauty, authority, and guidance — informs American culture, as well as a stubborn Protestant aversion to decoration and artifice. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Silver Sailing Cups Recall Gilded Age Glamour and Sexuality," 29 June 2019 Bertolt Brecht’s characters called attention to the artifice of the play to force the audience out of the supine pleasures of spectacle. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "How ‘Fleabag’ Seduces Us, Then Accuses Us," 19 June 2019 Gabrielle Union, @gabunion Social media is often derided for presenting artifice, but Gabrielle Union’s presence on Instagram feels like a frank (and hilarious) conversation between friends. Cady Lang, Time, "The 25 Accounts to Follow For the Best Instagram Stories Right Now," 4 June 2019 Getty Images Speaking of artifice and exaggeration! Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Who Wore the Biggest Shoulders at the 2019 Met Gala? An Investigation," 7 May 2019 That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of artifice, of stylization. Scarlett Newman, Teen Vogue, "Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 Met Gala," 2 Apr. 2019 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

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

12 Jul 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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