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 externally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for external

Synonyms: Adjective

accidental, adventitious, alien, extraneous, extrinsic, foreign, supervenient

Antonyms: Adjective

inherent, innate, intrinsic

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Examples of external in a Sentence


the external features of the building the external signs of the disease

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Agender can also refer to someone who does not care about gender, does not want to label their internal and external identity or identifies as a person, rather than a gender above all things. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "What Does 'Agender' Mean?," 3 May 2019 The symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. Cara Anna, The Seattle Times, "AP Explains: Why 2nd-worst Ebola outbreak is growing concern," 13 Apr. 2019 The next phase of the external audit will involve taking a closer look at the customers on the list from SVT—looking, for instance, at their corporate structures, subsidiaries and affiliates, Swedbank executives said. Kristin Broughton And Oliver Griffin, WSJ, "Swedbank Cuts Ties With Customers Suspected of Money Laundering," 22 Mar. 2019 That's because the contract signed by U-M President Mark Schlissel with PricewaterhouseCoopers — the firm that already does the university's annual external audit — restricts the new audit's scope to only the most recent fiscal year. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "How a down-and-out broker got University of Michigan to invest $95M," 22 June 2018 An external audit of school discipline should be conducted to ensure it’s being enforced fairly and consistently. Scott Travis, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Report recommends 100 safety improvements as a result of Parkland shooting," 4 June 2018 Talks have circled around an external audit but a timeline has not been set, Helm said. Yihyun Jeong, azcentral, "Another Scottsdale schools administrator is placed on leave," 17 Apr. 2018 The settlement requires ASUSTek to undergo external security audits for 20 years. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "A raft of flaws in AMD chips makes bad hacks much, much worse," 13 Mar. 2018 For now, though, Macy’s is benefiting from external factors and strategic moves by Gennette, who spent most of his career at the chain before getting the CEO post. James F. Peltz, The Seattle Times, "Some analysts skeptical that Macy’s can keep its rebound alive," 13 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for external

Last Updated

15 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for external

The first known use of external was in 1542

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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 externally (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on external

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with external

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for external

Spanish Central: Translation of external

Nglish: Translation of external for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of external for Arabic Speakers

Comments on external

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highly pertinent or appropriate

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