Anglo-Norman and Middle French artificiel (French artificiel) skilfully made or contrived, brought about by human skill or intervention (1267 in Old French), cunning, seeking to deceive (1532), unspontaneous, affected (c1537) and its etymon classical Latin artificilis made or contrived by art (used by Quintilian in rhetorical context, translating ancient Greek ), in post-classical Latin also prescribed by art, scientific (4th or 5th cent.; 14th cent. in a British source), produced by human skill (from 9th cent. in British sources), skilled, artistic, involving craftsmanship (from 12th cent. in British sources) < artificium ARTIFICE n. + -lis -AL suffix1. Compare Old Occitan artificial (14th cent.), Catalan artificial (1272), Spanish artificial (c1250), Portuguese artificial (14th cent.), Italian artificiale (a1294).
- A. Adjective.
- I. Opposed to natural.
- c. Physics. Of nuclear transmutation and radioactivity: brought about (as by bombardment with subatomic particles), rather than natural or spontaneous; (of isotopes and elements) resulting from phenomena of this kind, not occurring naturally.
- 4. a. Contrived or fabricated for a particular purpose, esp. for deception; resulting from artifice; feigned, fictitious.
- b. Contract Bridge. Designating a bid or bidding system used to signal information about a player's hand to his or her partner by means of a prearranged convention.
- 5. Chiefly Biol. and Taxon. Designating a classification scheme based on characteristics selected primarily for pragmatic reasons, to enable identification and categorization of the things classified, rather than for any correspondence to natural affinities or essential characteristics; relating to such a system. Recorded earliest in artificial system
- III. Displaying art or skill.
- 8. Displaying or characterized by artifice; artful, cunning. Obs.
- 9. a. Of a thing: skilfully made or contrived; cleverly constructed. Obs.
- b. Of a person: skilled in an art or craft; technically or artistically adept. Obs.
- 10. Of workmanship, a method, etc.: displaying technical skill; expert, ingenious. Obs.
- B. Noun.
- 1. With the. That which is artificial. Freq. contrasted with NATURAL n.1 9b.
- 2. An artificial or man-made thing; a product of artifice. Usu. in pl. Now rare except in specific uses