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 These soft chews are made without any artificial flavors or colors, and are sure to boost your pup’s health, happiness, and mobility. The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Aug. 2022 Researchers have found that exposure to natural light (but not artificial light) synchronizes your internal circadian clock to the rising and setting of the sun. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 11 Aug. 2022 According to the International Dark-Sky Association, the widespread use of artificial light is impairing our view of the universe, as well as creating a host of health and environmental issues. Brion O'connor,, 4 Aug. 2022 The coffees have no alcohol in them and no artificial flavors are added. Jeanette Hurt, Forbes, 29 June 2022 The ice cream is churned with black tea and has no artificial flavors or coloring, according to a release. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 9 June 2022 PlantFusion as a brand is committed to being free of dairy, soy, rice, eggs, nuts, fish, tree nuts, shellfish and artificial flavors and colors. Good Housekeeping, 9 June 2022 Brussels has also created an artificial scarcity of ETS permits. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2022 There's growing evidence that artificial sweeteners may raise heart risks and elevate blood sugar. Jacqueline Stenson, NBC News, 11 Sep. 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

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Time Traveler for artificial

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near artificial



artificial accession

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Artificial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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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


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