ar·​ti·​fi·​cial | \ ˌär-tə-ˈfi-shᵊl How to pronounce artificial (audio) \

Definition of artificial

1 : humanly contrived (see contrive sense 1b) often on a natural model : man-made an artificial limb artificial diamonds
2a : having existence in legal, economic, or political theory
b : caused or produced by a human and especially social or political agency an artificial price advantage Within these companies, qualified women run into artificial barriers that prevent them from advancing to top positions in management.— James J. Kilpatrick
3a : lacking in natural or spontaneous quality an artificial smile an artificial excitement
b : imitation, sham artificial flavor
4 : based on differential morphological characters not necessarily indicative of natural relationships an artificial key for plant identification
5 obsolete : artful, cunning

Other Words from artificial

artificiality \ ˌär-​tə-​ˌfi-​shē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce artificial (audio) \ noun
artificially \ ˌär-​tə-​ˈfi-​shᵊl-​ē How to pronounce artificial (audio) \ adverb
artificialness \ ˌär-​tə-​ˈfi-​shəl-​nəs How to pronounce artificial (audio) \ noun

Examples of artificial in a Sentence

the world's first artificial heart This product contains no artificial colors natural substances are used. The country's borders are artificial, and were set with no consideration for the various ethnic groups in the region.
Recent Examples on the Web For optimal viewing, find an area away from artificial lighting and lie flat on your back, observing as much of the sky as possible, NASA suggested. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 28 July 2022 Just as artificial lighting offers contrast to a dark color scheme, so can natural lighting. Nafeesah Allen, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 July 2022 Indoor facilities require a tremendous amount of nonrenewable resources to power artificial lighting, air conditioning and dehumidification processes to produce consistent results. Graham Farrar, Rolling Stone, 19 Apr. 2022 With more sunlight, people require less electricity for artificial lighting. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 16 Mar. 2022 Kaczor imagines that artificial wombs would probably be used first as part of the intensive care given to premature infants. Ariana Eunjung Cha, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Dec. 2021 And that to stop us from panicking, the powers that be have installed a giant artificial light bulb in the sky. Lauren Markham, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 The suprachiasmatic nucleus is wired directly to the retina, and in the 1980s, it was confirmed that the brain clock could be calibrated by sunlight or artificial light, which signals when it’s daytime. New York Times, 6 July 2022 Inside, a single plant gets artificial light and a steady supply of fertilized water. Globe Staff,, 3 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'artificial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of artificial

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for artificial

Middle English, "devised by humans (as opposed to originating naturally or divinely)," borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French artificiel, borrowed from Medieval Latin artificiālis "produced by human skill, skilled, artistic," going back to Latin, "furnished or contrived by art (in rhetoric)," from artificium "artistry, craftsmanship, craft" + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at artifice

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best artificial christmas trees.

Learn More About artificial

Time Traveler for artificial

Time Traveler

The first known use of artificial was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near artificial



artificial accession

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for artificial

Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Artificial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for artificial


ar·​ti·​fi·​cial | \ ˌär-tə-ˈfi-shəl How to pronounce artificial (audio) \

Kids Definition of artificial

1 : made by humans an artificial lake
2 : not natural in quality an artificial smile
3 : made to seem like something natural artificial flowers artificial flavoring

Other Words from artificial

artificially adverb


ar·​ti·​fi·​cial | \ ˌärt-ə-ˈfish-əl How to pronounce artificial (audio) \

Medical Definition of artificial

1 : humanly contrived often on a natural model an artificial limb
2 : based on differential morphological characters not necessarily indicative of natural relationships an artificial key for identification of a group of organisms

Other Words from artificial

artificially \ -​ˈfish-​(ə-​)lē How to pronounce artificial (audio) \ adverb



Legal Definition of artificial

1a : made by humans artificial accessions — compare natural
b : caused or produced by a human and especially social or political agency an artificial price advantage
2 : arising through operation of law

Other Words from artificial

artificially adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on artificial

Nglish: Translation of artificial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of artificial for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!