Definition of artifact in US English:


(British artefact)


  • 1An object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historical interest.

    ‘gold and silver artifacts’
    • ‘If we view all cultural artifacts as historically contingent, by what measure do we decide if one is morally superior to another?’
    • ‘The National Museum in Nairobi has collections of historical and cultural artifacts and the museum at Fort Jesus in Mombasa is dedicated to archeology and history.’
    • ‘The McCord Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of historical artifacts from Montreal and beyond.’
    • ‘We have no control over our cultural artifacts once we send them out into the world - people do with them what they will, including construct dreams around them.’
    • ‘Local people wanted a safe place to exhibit and store family pictures and historical artifacts, and now the Centre provides just that.’
    • ‘Of course, much more remains to be done, but the ground floor now houses a large historical museum containing many artifacts indicative of past life in Wood's Harbour.’
    • ‘Displayed alongside the photos are some books, posters and other historical artifacts of this period.’
    • ‘The cultural artifacts that decorate the walls don't seem real to me - it's like stepping into the Matrix, an artificially generated world.’
    • ‘This treasury which is located inside a safe locked basement beneath the shrine contains historical artifacts, priceless manuscripts and a significant amount of gold and gems.’
    • ‘It's loaded with ceramic artifacts and historical relics.’
    • ‘We take for granted that our cultural artifacts will last.’
    • ‘I can't help but to think about how the great museums of Europe amassed their collections of cultural artefacts.’
    • ‘All the historical artefacts rescued from the building will be sold at auction next month.’
    • ‘Artworks in a museum tend to become historical documents or artefacts.’
    • ‘The film is most interesting as an historical artifact and an example of a black-cast film that seems to respect the actors, though not financially.’
    • ‘Because this policy sees every object in terms of personal identity, it is blind to imaginative or well-crafted paintings, interesting or rare historical artefacts.’
    • ‘The museum houses a wealth of interesting historical artifacts, including the original shop restored to its original condition.’
    • ‘Therefore, Chonggyechon now contains old deposits and a variety of artifacts that illustrate the cultural history of Seoul over the past 600 years.’
    • ‘The United States Library of Congress preserves the Nation's cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them.’
    • ‘The president of the Admiral Brown Society, JJ O'Hara, said the cannons and guns were rare historical artifacts.’
    artefact, historical object, ancient object, antiquity, antique, heirloom, object of virtu, curio
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  • 2Something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure.

    ‘widespread tissue infection may be a technical artifact’
    • ‘There was grain present, and some artifacts and pixelation, but it wasn't overly distracting.’
    • ‘Upon closer inspection, this claim proves exaggerated, an artifact of exit-poll procedures and inconsistency in question wording.’
    • ‘Following the artifact rejecting procedure, the single trial data were averaged separately for each of the six electrode sites and four stimulus conditions.’
    • ‘Any drift starting or stopping within the experiment may create artifacts, although the trials are randomized in a balanced order.’
    • ‘The ‘interglacial’ ice core fluctuations are now seen by most scientists as an artifact of ice flow.’
    • ‘However, because cross sections were taken at the very base of the trees and ring series were carefully cross dated, I do not believe the delay to be an artifact of the sampling procedure.’
    • ‘Shadows and dimly lighted sequences possess great detail and clarity, with no signs of edge enhancement or digital compression artifacts present.’
    • ‘Though present, the DNR artifacts are not significant enough to detract much from the viewing.’
    • ‘This movie shows its age through the many artifacts and imperfections present.’
    • ‘We performed two experiments in order to eliminate the possibility that the recombination we observed was an artifact of the PCR reaction.’
    • ‘Therefore, it is unlikely that the results presented are an artifact of presenting the stimuli fish in bottles.’
    • ‘The phenomenon is easily seen by eye and apparently cannot be ascribed to statistical artefacts, selection procedures or flawed reduction techniques.’
    • ‘Could the observed bundling be an artifact of specimen preparation for electron microscopy?’
    • ‘Were these negative findings an artifact of the procedures used in the study, or were they a valid reflection of the relationships that existed in the sample?’
    • ‘Therefore, artifacts associated with the experimental procedure could not be absolutely excluded, as was mentioned by the authors.’
    • ‘No edge enhancement or artifacts are present at all, and as with most transfers of recent films, this DVD looks great.’
    • ‘Researchers need to question whether the phenomena observed are real or an artefact of the experimental methodology used.’
    • ‘This is a flash artifact and is observed also when the flash is ignited in the empty spectrometer.’
    • ‘Note that the notal cleft seen in these preparations is an artifact of the mounting procedure.’


Early 19th century: from Latin arte ‘by or using art’ + factum ‘something made’ (neuter past participle of facere ‘make’).