Difference between Artefact or Artifact

The terms “Artefact” and “Artifact” both refer to objects made or given shape by humans, typically of cultural or historical interest. The difference in spelling reflects a variation in British and American English usage, not a difference in meaning. “Artefact” is the preferred spelling in British English, while “Artifact” is used in American English. Both terms are used in archaeology, anthropology, and general language to describe objects that have been created or modified by human activity.

DefinitionAn object made or modified by humans, typically an item of cultural or historical interestAn object made or modified by humans, often of cultural or historical interest
Preferred SpellingBritish EnglishAmerican English
Usage ContextArchaeology, museums, and historical texts in British English-speaking regionsArchaeology, museums, and historical texts in American English-speaking regions
ExamplesAncient pottery, tools, and jewelryNative American arrowheads, colonial furniture, and early computers

Difference Between “Artefact” OR “Artifact”

Definition of Artefact

An "Artefact" is any object made or modified by humans that provides information about the culture or society that produced it. This term emphasizes the human element in the creation or alteration of the object, often used within contexts that study past human life and activities, such as archaeology and history.

Definition of Artifact

"Artifact" shares the same definition as "Artefact," referring to any human-made or modified object. It is similarly employed in disciplines that focus on understanding human history, culture, and technology through material remains.

Origin of Artefact

The term “Artefact” comes from the Latin “arte” (by skill) and “factum” (made), highlighting the skillful creation or modification by humans. Its use in English, adhering to the British spelling convention, reflects a broader historical and linguistic connection to Latin and French influences.

Origin of Artifact

Artifact” also originates from the Latin “arte” and “factum” but adopts the American English spelling. The variation in spelling is a result of the systematic orthographic differences that emerged between British and American English during the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Both “Artefact” and “Artifact” are pronounced similarly in their respective dialects:

  • Artefact: /ˈɑːtɪfækt/ in British English
  • Artifact: /ˈɑːrtɪfækt/ in American English

Comparing Artefact and Artifact

While the core definition of “Artefact” and “Artifact” remains the same, the choice between them depends largely on the dialect of English being used. The distinction is primarily orthographic, reflecting broader patterns of variation between British and American English. Both terms play crucial roles in fields that study human history through material remains, and the choice of term does not influence the scientific or academic analysis of the objects.

Spelling PreferenceBritish EnglishAmerican English
UsagePreferred in contexts using British EnglishPreferred in contexts using American English
Orthographic InfluenceLatin and FrenchEnglish simplification and standardization

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Artefact in Sentences

  1. The museum’s new exhibit features artefacts from medieval Europe. (Here, “artefacts” refers to objects from a specific historical period, using the British English spelling.)
  2. Archaeologists discovered a Roman artefact buried near the ancient ruins. (Focuses on an object made by humans of historical interest, spelled in British English.)
  3. Each artefact at the archaeological site provides insight into the daily lives of its creators. (Emphasizes the cultural or historical information conveyed by the object.)
  4. The restoration of the artefact required careful attention to preserve its original condition. (Refers to the conservation of a human-made object, using British spelling.)
  5. Studying artefacts helps historians piece together narratives of past societies. (Highlights the role of human-made objects in understanding history, spelled in British English.)

Use of Artifact in Sentences

  1. The artifact from the Native American settlement is on display at the local museum. (Refers to an object of cultural significance, using the American English spelling.)
  2. This artifact, a tool from the Bronze Age, shows the technological advancements of the time. (Focuses on a human-made object from a specific historical era, spelled in American English.)
  3. Researchers analyzed the artifact to determine its origin and age. (Discusses the scientific examination of a human-made object, using American spelling.)
  4. Conserving the artifact for future generations is a priority for the museum. (Emphasizes the preservation of cultural or historical objects, spelled in American English.)
  5. The exhibition highlights artifacts that illustrate the development of writing systems. (Showcases objects that represent a specific aspect of human progress, using American spelling.)


Whether one uses “Artefact” or “Artifact” largely depends on the variant of English being practiced. Both terms refer to objects made or altered by human hands, offering invaluable insights into past cultures, technologies, and ways of life. The distinction is not in their definitions but in their orthographic traditions, reflecting the broader linguistic diversities between British and American English. Understanding and respecting these variations enriches our appreciation of language and its role in capturing human history.

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Can “Artefact” and “Artifact” be used interchangeably?
    • Yes, “Artefact” and “Artifact” can be used interchangeably, with the choice of term typically depending on whether British or American English is being used.
  2. Does the difference in spelling affect the meaning of the terms?
    • No, the difference in spelling does not affect the meaning. Both terms refer to human-made or modified objects of cultural or historical interest.
  3. How should I choose which term to use?
    • The choice between “Artefact” and “Artifact” should be based on the version of English you are using or the style guide you are following. If writing for a British audience or publication, “Artefact” is appropriate. For an American context, “Artifact” is preferred.
British and American flags


What is the difference between artefact and artifact?

Artefact and artifact are two different spellings of the noun meaning an object shaped by human workmanship, especially one of historical or archaeological interest. Artefact is the British spelling, while artifact is the American spelling.

Which spelling should I use, artefact or artifact?

When deciding whether to use artefact or artifact, consider your intended audience. If you are writing for a British audience, it is recommended to use artefact, as it aligns with British English spelling preferences. However, both artefact and artifact are considered correct in British English. If your audience is primarily American, it is advisable to use artifact to avoid confusion or debates over correct spelling.

What is the usage preference of artefact or artifact in British and American English?

In British English, the use of artefact has gained prominence over artifact, winning the spelling competition around 1990. This preference is reflected in British books and periodicals published from 1900 to 2019. However, British writers still use both spellings, albeit with a slight preference for artefact. In American English, artifact is the standard spelling and is widely used. Canadian writers, who primarily follow American spelling conventions, also use artifact.

Are both artefact and artifact considered correct in British English?

Yes, both artefact and artifact are considered correct in British English. However, artefact has gained more prominence in recent years.

Which spelling do Canadian writers use, artefact or artifact?

Canadian writers tend to follow American spelling conventions and primarily use the spelling artifact.

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