from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Made by humans, especially in imitation of something natural.
  • adjective Not arising from natural or necessary causes; contrived or arbitrary.
  • adjective Affected or insincere.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to art; in accordance with the rules of art; technical.
  • Contrived with skill or art; artistically done or represented; elaborate.
  • Made or contrived by art, or by human skill and labor: opposed to natural: as, artificial heat or light; an artificial magnet.
  • Made in imitation of or as a substitute for that which is natural or real: as, artificial pearls or diamonds; artificial flowers.
  • Feigned; fictitious; assumed; affected; constrained; not genuine or natural: said of things.
  • Full of affectation; not natural: said of persons.
  • Artful; subtle; crafty; ingenious.
  • noun A production of art.
  • noun An artificer; an artisan.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Made or contrived by art; produced or modified by human skill and labor, in opposition to natural.
  • adjective Feigned; fictitious; assumed; affected; not genuine.
  • adjective obsolete Artful; cunning; crafty.
  • adjective Cultivated; not indigenous; not of spontaneous growth.
  • adjective (Rhet.) arguments invented by the speaker, in distinction from laws, authorities, and the like, which are called inartificial arguments or proofs.
  • adjective (Science) an arrangement based on superficial characters, and not expressing the true natural relations species; as, “the artificial system” in botany, which is the same as the Linnæan system.
  • adjective See under Horizon
  • adjective any light other than that which proceeds from the heavenly bodies.
  • adjective lines on a sector or scale, so contrived as to represent the logarithmic sines and tangents, which, by the help of the line of numbers, solve, with tolerable exactness, questions in trigonometry, navigation, etc.
  • adjective logarithms.
  • adjective (Law) See under Person.
  • adjective the same as logarithms of the natural sines, tangents, etc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Man-made; of artifice.
  • adjective False, misleading.
  • adjective Unnatural.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective not arising from natural growth or characterized by vital processes
  • adjective contrived by art rather than nature
  • adjective artificially formal


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin artificiālis, belonging to art, from artificium, craftsmanship; see artifice.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Via Old French (French: artificiel), from Latin artificialis from artificium ("skill"), from artifex, from ars ("skill"), and -fex, from facere ("to make").


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  • I believe the original use of "artificial" as a positive take on human-crafted works is valuable. In the digital design industry, the mis-use of "natural" upsets me enough that we named our company The Artificial.

    January 29, 2015