Last modified on 8 April 2015, at 16:41



Alternative formsEdit


Alteration of artefact, from Italian artefatto, from Latin arte (by skill), (ablative of ars (art)) + factum (thing made), from facere



artifact (plural artifacts)

  1. An object made or shaped by human hand.
  2. (archaeology) An object, such as a tool, weapon or ornament, of archaeological or historical interest, especially such an object found at an archaeological excavation.
    The dig produced many Roman artifacts.
  3. Something viewed as a product of human conception or agency rather than an inherent element.
    • "The very act of looking at a naked model was an artifact of male supremacy" (Philip Weiss).
  4. A structure or finding in an experiment or investigation that is not a true feature of the object under observation, but is a result of external action, the test arrangement, or an experimental error.
    The spot on his lung turned out to be an artifact of the X-ray process.
  5. An object made or shaped by some agent or intelligence, not necessarily of direct human origin.
  6. (computing) A perceptible distortion that appears in a digital image, audio or video file as a result of applying a lossy compression algorithm.
    This JPEG image has been so highly compressed that it has too many unsightly compression artifacts, making it unsuitable for the cover of our magazine.



  • artifact in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • "artefact" is the preferred spelling in Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary, with artifact listed as a variant.
  • "artifact" is preferred by the Oxford English Dictionary and most American dictionaries.