1821, artefact, "artificial production, anything made or modified by human art," from Italian artefatto, from Latin arte "by skill" (ablative of ars "art;" see art (n.)) + factum "thing made," from facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). The word is attested in German from 1791. The English spelling with -i- is attested by 1884, by influence of the Latin stem (as in artifice). Originally a word in anatomy to denote artificial conditions caused by operation, etc.; archaeological application in English dates from 1885 (in German from 1875).
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