ex·​ter·​nal·​ize | \ ek-ˈstər-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce externalize (audio) \
externalized; externalizing

Definition of externalize

transitive verb

1 : to make external or externally manifest
2 : to attribute to causes outside the self : rationalize externalized his lack of ability to succeed

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Examples of externalize in a Sentence

an actress with an expressive face that wonderfully externalizes a wide range of emotions
Recent Examples on the Web These pages have surged during the pandemic as young people have turned to Instagram to externalize their innermost id and seek connection, said Amanda Brennan, senior director of trends and the meme librarian at XX Artists, a social media agency. New York Times, 9 Aug. 2021 The feminine style of grief is to externalize emotions and express them—to talk with others, cry, lament, and reminisce, say by going to a support group. Colleen Murphy, Health.com, 12 May 2021 Boys in general tend to externalize anger and sadness against other people, whereas girls are more likely to internalize those emotions and have higher rates of depression and anxiety, Peterson said. Rebecca Boone And Lindsay Whitehurst, Star Tribune, 7 May 2021 Corporations should not be able to externalize their costs by pushing them onto government safety net programs or onto individual workers. Erik Sherman, Forbes, 2 Mar. 2021 In order to externalize Brown’s own emotional reality and character growth, Hawke focused on the beard, which Brown originally grew as a disguise but which artists often portray as his defining feature. Salamishah Tillet, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2020 The nosiest, noisiest, and most persistent shareholders are usually those looking for a quick gain, and the market famously rewards businesses that discount the future and externalize costs onto communities and the environment. Judith Samuelson, Quartz, 16 Sep. 2020 So Koepp employs recurrent mirror imagery, dream states, and sudden shifts in time and space as a way to externalize Theo's fracturing internal state. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 20 June 2020 By externalizing criticism, China's government may be able to further rally the country behind its leaders. James Griffiths, CNN, 10 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'externalize.' 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 externalize

1852, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for externalize

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The first known use of externalize was in 1852

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external loan

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Last Updated

22 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Externalize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/externalize. Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for externalize


transitive verb
variants: or British externalise \ ek-​ˈstərn-​ᵊl-​ˌīz How to pronounce externalize (audio) \
externalized or British externalised; externalizing or British externalising

Medical Definition of externalize

1a : to transform from a mental image into an apparently real object (as in hallucinations) : attribute (a mental image) to external causation externalizing an obsession
b : to invent an explanation for (an inner problem whose actual basis is known only subconsciously) by attributing to causes outside the self : rationalize, project externalized his failure
2 : to direct outward socially externalized her anger

Other Words from externalize

externalization or British externalisation \ -​ˌstərn-​ᵊl-​ə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce externalize (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on externalize

Nglish: Translation of externalize for Spanish Speakers


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