[ ahr-tuh-fish-uhl ]
/ ˌɑr təˈfɪʃ əl /
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Origin of artificial

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin artificiālis contrived by art; see artifice, -al1


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does artificial mean?

Artificial is used to describe things that are made or manufactured as opposed to occurring naturally. Artificial is often used as the opposite of natural. A close synonym of artificial is synthetic.

This sense of the word is often used in the context of food to describe things like ingredients, flavors, additives, and preservatives that are chemically processed. Food packaging often specifies whether a product has natural or artificial flavors (or both). An artificial sweetener is a kind of chemical used as a substitute for sugar, such as in diet sodas.

Artificial is not only used in the context of food. Artificial turf is a grasslike surface used for sports playing fields. Artificial diamonds are those that are manufactured, as opposed to those that have developed through natural processes in the earth. Artificial flowers are often used as decorations. Artificial intelligence generally refers to the ability of a computer to function in a way that mimics or is likened to the human mind.

Sometimes, artificial is used in a more negative way to describe something as fake or imitation, as in Something about this tastes artificial. 

This sense of the word is sometimes used figuratively to describe something as being faked, phony, or contrived—the opposite of real or genuine, as in an artificial smile.  

Example: The stadium just installed a field with artificial grass that is supposed to feel identical to real grass. 

Where does artificial come from?

The first records of the word artificial come from around 1400. It ultimately comes from the Latin artificiālis, meaning “belonging to art,” from artificium, meaning “skill.” (The related word artifice can refer to trickery or inventiveness.)

Artificial is typically used to indicate that the thing it describes was made and especially to contrast it with a natural version of that thing that grew or developed naturally.

Creating artificial versions of things can often be done more quickly and is often cheaper. However, the resulting product may be considered less quality, less healthy, or inferior in some other way.

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What are some words that share a root or word element with artificial


What are some words that often get used in discussing artificial?

How is artificial used in real life?

Artificial is a commonly used word that’s typically used to describe something that was made and does not occur naturally.



Try using artificial!

Which of the following things could be described as artificial?

A. a flavor made in a lab
B. a naturally grown apple
C. a wild plant
D. bacteria

How to use artificial in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for artificial

/ (ˌɑːtɪˈfɪʃəl) /

produced by man; not occurring naturallyartificial materials of great strength
made in imitation of a natural product, esp as a substitute; not genuineartificial cream
pretended; assumed; insincerean artificial manner
lacking in spontaneity; affectedan artificial laugh
biology relating to superficial characteristics not based on the interrelationships of organismsan artificial classification

Derived forms of artificial

artificiality (ˌɑːtɪˌfɪʃɪˈælɪtɪ), nounartificially, adverb

Word Origin for artificial

C14: from Latin artificiālis belonging to art, from artificium skill, artifice
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