ex·​ter·​nal | \ ek-ˈstər-nᵊl How to pronounce external (audio) \

Definition of external

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : capable of being perceived outwardly external signs of a disease
b(1) : having merely the outward appearance of something : superficial
(2) : not intrinsic or essential external circumstances
2a : of, relating to, or connected with the outside or an outer part the building's external features
b : applied or applicable to the outside a lotion for external use
3a(1) : situated outside, apart, or beyond specifically : situated near or toward the surface of the body
(2) : arising or acting from outside an external force
b : of or relating to dealings or relationships with foreign countries
c : having existence independent of the mind external reality



Definition of external (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is external: such as
a : an outer part
b : an external feature or aspect usually used in plural

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Other Words from external


externally \ ek-​ˈstər-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce external (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for external

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of external in a Sentence

Adjective the external features of the building the external signs of the disease
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Internal and external dissatisfaction with Kabila gradually grew until 1998, when a new rebel group -- again backed by Rwanda and Uganda -- formed and a second conflict broke out. Sandrine Amiel And Eoin Mcsweeney, CNN, "France opens investigations into former DR Congo rebel leader after Paris arrest," 5 Jan. 2021 Crunches work your rectus abdominis (the long, flat muscle on the front of your torso), plus your internal and external obliques (the muscles that wrap around the side of your body). Amy Eisinger, M.a., SELF, "How to Do Crunches Like a Total Pro," 29 Dec. 2020 Putin’s rhetoric, escalating warnings of internal and external enemies, resembles an old Soviet ploy to justify internal repression and a hard-line military approach. Washington Post, "In Russia, tough new laws and stepped-up defiance abroad mark Putin’s shift toward unfettered control," 27 Dec. 2020 Those unsatisfied tickets, created when there is an internal or external complaint about a meter, account for 74% of the tickets opened since December 2017, the investigation found. Emily Opilo, baltimoresun.com, "Report finds broken equipment, unresolved water customer complaints cost Baltimore City, county millions," 21 Dec. 2020 Residents who did not use their water supply during the boil water advisory should flush their internal and external plumbing for several minutes. Staff Report, NOLA.com, "Boil water advisory canceled for New Orleans' Lakewood neighborhood," 20 Dec. 2020 Next month, Coke is launching a 10-year internal and external talent-recruiting program for people of color with an emphasis on Black executives. Jennifer Maloney And Lauren Weber, WSJ, "Coke’s Elusive Goal: Boosting Its Black Employees," 16 Dec. 2020 At the time, Penske pledged $1 million to support internal and external programs to help create change around diversity in the series. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Roger Penske announces Force Indy, new USF2000 team aiming to hire Black men and women," 3 Dec. 2020 Japan’s decision was most likely driven by a combination of domestic and external political pressures, said Takeshi Kuramochi, a climate policy researcher at the NewClimate Institute in Germany. Ben Dooley, New York Times, "Japan’s New Leader Sets Ambitious Goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2050," 26 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Information out to the Foundation, alumni and other externals, too. Dawn Rhodes, chicagotribune.com, "Southern Illinois University president ousted amid swirling controversy," 13 July 2018 The externals extend upward from the hipbone to the ribs and spine, and the internals rise forward from the hip to ribs. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What's an oblique? Explaining the pesky strain that's keeping baseball players down," 23 Apr. 2018 While the Notebook 9 Pen carries the high-end internals that would justify a $1,399 price tag, its externals don't match up. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Samsung Notebook 9 Pen review: Stylus convenience, devoid of style," 4 Apr. 2018 The kind of love that isn’t based on externals, but on a deep connection within. Paige Davis, Health.com, "Breast Cancer Stripped Me Down Physically and Emotionally—and Taught Me More Than I Ever Imagined About Love," 2 Apr. 2018 After a minute or so, the mind goes outward once again and attends to the externals. Martin Seligman, BostonGlobe.com, "When the brain is off to sleep — but hard at work," 22 Mar. 2018 MEMBERS OF THE EXTERNAL EXPERT ADVISORY PANEL PETER HARVEY, Esq. NOLA.com, "NFL suspends Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott for 6 games," 11 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'external.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of external


1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1635, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for external


Latin externus external, from exter — more at exterior

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Time Traveler for external

Time Traveler

The first known use of external was in 1542

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Statistics for external

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“External.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/external. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for external


How to pronounce external (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of external

: located, seen, or used on the outside or surface of something
: coming from outside
: existing or occurring outside your mind


ex·​ter·​nal | \ ek-ˈstər-nᵊl How to pronounce external (audio) \

Kids Definition of external

: situated on or relating to the outside : outside


ex·​ter·​nal | \ ek-ˈstərn-ᵊl How to pronounce external (audio) \

Medical Definition of external

1 : capable of being perceived outwardly : bodily external signs of a disease
2a : situated at, on, or near the outside an external protective covering an external muscle
b : directed toward the outside : having an outside object external perception eyesight and the other external senses
c : used by applying to the outside an external lotion
3a(1) : situated near or toward the surface of the body also : situated away from the mesial plane the external condyle of the humerus
(2) : arising or acting from outside : having an outside origin external causes external stimuli
b : of, relating to, or consisting of something outside the mind : having existence independent of the mind sensations aroused by external phenomena external reality

Other Words from external

externally \ -​ᵊl-​ē How to pronounce external (audio) \ adverb

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