factitious

adjective

fac·​ti·​tious fak-ˈti-shəs How to pronounce factitious (audio)
1
: produced by humans rather than by natural forces
It seems probable that several of the mounds are factitious.
Those factitious stones have resisted atmospheric influences much better than sandstones; they are composed of perfectly hard mortar mixed with pounded pebbles … Principles of Modern Building, volume 1
2
a
: formed by or adapted to an artificial or conventional standard
factitious tastes and values
… her genuine vocation, as distinguished from the hollow and factitious ideal with which her family and her association with Olive Chancellor had saddled her … Henry James
b
: produced by special effort : not genuine
created a factitious demand by spreading rumors of shortage
… whether the smile began as a factitious one, to test her capacity in that art,—nobody knows; it ended certainly in a real smile. Thomas Hardy
What was dramatic in it tended to be factitious, generated as it was by the mystery part of the story … Alan Horsman
c
: of, relating to, or affected with factitious disorder
True factitious patients are those who consciously feign physical or psychological symptoms to assume the role of a patient because they desire attention, sympathy and caring. Liz Hunt
factitiously adverb
factitiousness noun

Did you know?

Like the common words fact and factual, factitious ultimately comes from the Latin verb facere, meaning "to do" or "to make." But in current use, factitious has little to do with things factual and true—in fact, factitious often implies the opposite. The most immediate ancestor of factitious is the Latin adjective facticius, meaning "made by art" or "artificial." When English speakers first adopted the word as factitious in the 17th century, it meant "produced by human effort or skill" (rather than arising from nature). This meaning gave rise to such meanings as "artificial" and "false" or "feigned."

Example Sentences

presumably the statue is of factitious marble, because for that price you're not going to get the real stuff the factitious friendliness shown by the beauty-pageant contestants to one another
Recent Examples on the Web Their connection to these was as factitious as their previous link to toothpaste. David Mamet, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 Marc Feldman, the American psychiatrist who popularized the term Munchausen by internet, has noticed that most of the cases of factitious disorder that come to his attention involve women. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 16 Mar. 2021 Amidst this sad and factitious disorder what became clear was that political agendas were once again trumping facts. Amir Husain, Forbes, 4 Mar. 2021 Life here feels familiar—perversely, almost easy, if admittedly factitious. Sylvia Poggioli, The New York Review of Books, 29 Mar. 2020 That’s because, for the most part, music is used in movies as sonic wallpaper, covering silences and images with an indifferent and casually factitious unity. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 13 Mar. 2017

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from Latin factīcius "manufactured, artificial," from factus (past participle of facere "to make, create, bring about") + -īcius -itious — more at fact

First Known Use

circa 1624, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of factitious was circa 1624

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Dictionary Entries Near factitious

Cite this Entry

“Factitious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factitious. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

factitious

adjective

fac·​ti·​tious fak-ˈtish-əs How to pronounce factitious (audio)
: not natural or genuine : artificial
a factitious display of grief
factitiously adverb
factitiousness noun

Medical Definition

factitious

adjective

fac·​ti·​tious fak-ˈtish-əs How to pronounce factitious (audio)
: not produced or arising by natural means
specifically : of, relating to, or affected by factitious disorder
factitious hypoglycemia following self-administration of insulin
All medical specialties may be interested in the management of factitious patients as evidenced by the clinical heterogeneity of the sample, but the study reveals a prevalence of psychiatry, emergency room, and internal medicine departments. Ivano Caselli et al., Psychology Research and Behavior Management

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