Artifice



a clever trick or stratagem; a cunning, crafty device or expedient; wile.
trickery; guile; craftiness.
cunning; ingenuity; inventiveness:
a drawing-room comedy crafted with artifice and elegance.
a skillful or artful contrivance or expedient.
Contemporary Examples

He is unfailingly polite and contrite, still slightly awkward with the artifice of campaigning after all these years.
South Carolina Street Fight in First District Congressional Primary John Avlon March 17, 2013

While he photographed real-life situations, the degrees of staging nod, perhaps, to the artifice of advertising tableaux.
Larry Sultan’s California Dreams Philip Gefter December 16, 2009

Orwell needed a certain level of artifice to maintain verisimilitude.
Orwell’s Lies: His Diaries Reveal Problems with the Truth Jimmy So August 18, 2012

Of course, it is an artifice, protected from the real horror of war.
The Star-Crossed Hamlet David Thomson October 9, 2008

Where Raphael constructed ideal women and made them seem normal and necessary, Dürer constructs ideal works of art and artifice.
Durer, A ‘Natural’ Genius for Art Blake Gopnik May 15, 2013

Historical Examples

Inaccuracy in detail and artifice in the arrangement of isolated peoples are inevitable in such a scheme.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 13, Slice 2 Various

They held the secret of artifice in metals and gems; they were architects and sculptors.
Italy, the Magic Land Lilian Whiting

The artifice is visible—I mean the industrious mechanism of their construction.
The Conquest of Canada (Vol. 2 of 2) George Warburton

Jeff had been summoned, and Esther met him with no pretence at an artifice of coolness.
The Prisoner Alice Brown

You have artifice instead of feeling, and conceits and often downright fustian instead of heart, soul, and human passion.
Homes and Haunts of the Most Eminent British Poets, Vol. I (of 2) William Howitt

noun
a clever expedient; ingenious stratagem
crafty or subtle deception
skill; cleverness
a skilfully contrived device
(obsolete) craftsmanship
n.

1530s, “workmanship, the making of anything by craft or skill,” from Middle French artifice “skill, cunning” (14c.), from Latin artificium “a profession, trade, employment, craft; making by art,” from artifex (genitive artificis) “craftsman, artist,” from ars “art” (see art (n.)) + facere “do” (see factitious). Meaning “device, trick” (the usual modern sense) is from 1650s.

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