late 14c., "not natural or spontaneous," from Old French artificial, from Latin artificialis "of or belonging to art," from artificium "a work of art; skill; theory, system," from artifex (genitive artificis) "craftsman, artist, master of an art" (music, acting, sculpting, etc.), from stem of ars "art" (see art (n.)) + -fex "maker," from facere "to do, make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
The earliest use in English seems to be in the phrase artificial day "part of the day from sunrise to sunset" (as opposed to the natural day of 24 hours). The meaning "made by man, contrived by human skill and labor" is from early 15c. The word was applied from 16c. to anything made in imitation of, or as a substitute for, what is natural, whether real (light, tears) or not (teeth, flowers). The meaning "fictitious, assumed, not genuine" is from 1640s; that of "full of affectation, insincere" is from 1590s.
Artificial insemination dates from 1894. Artificial intelligence "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines" was coined in 1956.
"by art or human skill and contrivance," early 15c.; see artificial + -ly (2).
"appearance of art; insincerity," 1763; see artificial + -ity. Earlier was artificialness (1590s); Middle English had artificy (early 15c.).
also a.i., by 1971, abbreviation of artificial intelligence. Earlier in 20c. it stood for artificial insemination.
a 19c. artificial singular of assets (q.v.).
1610s, "artificial, counterfeit;" 1620s, "existing only in imagination," from Medieval Latin fictitius, a misspelling of Latin ficticius "artificial, counterfeit," from fictus "feigned, fictitious, false," past participle of fingere "to shape, form, devise, feign" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Related: Fictitiously; fictitiousness.