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 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, "‘The Good Lord Bird’ Is a New Entry in the John Brown Canon," 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, "The ghost of Milton Friedman will haunt the markets until companies fix CEO pay," 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, "Nothing is what it seems in taut and twisty horror film You Should Have Left," 20 June 2020 By externalizing criticism, China's government may be able to further rally the country behind its leaders. James Griffiths, CNN, "China wants to take a victory lap over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak," 10 Mar. 2020 The suggestion that boys and men manifest depression with anger, rather than withdrawal, may arise from a biased expectation that males externalize behaviors and females internalize them. Marcia L. Stefanick, Scientific American, "Doctors Must Dig into Gender Difference to Improve Women’s Health Care," 1 Sep. 2017 As with Steinbeck’s work diary, the primary benefit of the practice seems to lie in externalizing our inner turmoil. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "If you’ve got a big career goal, you need to start keeping a work diary," 30 July 2019 There's some kind of externalizing your inner pain to your outer pain that felt really good. Anchorage Daily News, "Podcaster brings millennial Native voices to airwaves," 28 July 2019 Nostbakken and Sadava have visually externalized the internal monologue, constantly swapping the role of who plays the Cassandra the world interacts with, and who plays the psyche. Katie Walsh, latimes.com, "Review: Patrica Rozema’s ‘Mouthpiece’ delves deep into a woman's grief," 6 June 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of externalize was in 1852

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Externalize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/externalize. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for externalize


transitive verb
variants: or British externalise \ ek-​ˈstərn-​ᵊl-​ˌīz How to pronounce externalise (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 externalisation (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on externalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for externalize

Nglish: Translation of externalize for Spanish Speakers

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