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[ahr-tuh-fakt] /ˈɑr təˌfækt/
any object made by human beings, especially with a view to subsequent use.
a handmade object, as a tool, or the remains of one, as a shard of pottery, characteristic of an earlier time or cultural stage, especially such an object found at an archaeological excavation.
any mass-produced, usually inexpensive object reflecting contemporary society or popular culture:
artifacts of the pop rock generation.
a substance or structure not naturally present in the matter being observed but formed by artificial means, as during preparation of a microscope slide.
a spurious observation or result arising from preparatory or investigative procedures.
any feature that is not naturally present but is a product of an extrinsic agent, method, or the like:
statistical artifacts that make the inflation rate seem greater than it is.
Also, artefact.
1815-25; variant of artefact < Latin phrase arte factum (something) made with skill. See art, fact
Related forms
[ahr-tuh-fak-choo-uh l] /ˌɑr təˈfæk tʃu əl/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for artifacts
  • Museum professionals always take artifacts and specimens as the starting point.
  • If so, the experiment could be rerun to test that personality indicators are predictive, rather than back-fitted artifacts.
  • Students will explore what artifacts tell us about a culture.
  • The artifacts are clustered together in what might have been ancient, say, gaming halls or courtyards.
  • They want to find artifacts that tell stories about what happened on that land a long time ago, and they're striking pay dirt.
  • Detailed building plans, evocative photographs, and architectural artifacts all reveal the city's past.
  • My sense, though, was that he was reading the ads as cultural artifacts a bit more than as actual ads.
  • Turns out he's quite the history buff and many of the artifacts decorated his office while awaiting the building of the museums.
  • It's in the right location, and the artifacts in and around it are consistent with the other artifacts that have been collected.
  • But those artifacts could be from volcanic eruptions or natural fires.
British Dictionary definitions for artifacts


a variant spelling of artefact
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for artifacts



1821, artefact, "anything made by human art," from Italian artefatto, from Latin arte "by skill" (ablative of ars "art;" see art (n.)) + factum "thing made," from facere "to make, do" (see factitious). The spelling with -i- is by 1884, by influence of the Latin stem. Archaeological application dates from 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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artifacts in Medicine

artifact ar·ti·fact or ar·te·fact (är'tə-fākt')

  1. A structure or substance not normally present but produced by an external agent or action, such as a structure seen in a microscopic specimen after fixation that is not present in the living tissue.

  2. A skin lesion produced or perpetuated by self-inflicted action.

ar'ti·fac·ti'tious (-fāk-tĭsh'əs) or ar'ti·fac'tu·al (-fāk'chu-əl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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artifacts in Science
artifact also artefact
  1. An object produced or shaped by human craft, especially a tool, weapon, or ornament of archaeological or historical interest.

  2. An artificial product or effect observed in a natural system, especially one introduced by the technology used in scientific investigation or by experimental error.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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