ex·ter·nal·ize | \ek-ˈstər-nə-ˌlīz \
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

The risk in playing this kind of suffering lies in the temptation to externalize the misery, but Mr. Hawke strips away everything that might turn this into a performance. Paul Schrader, New York Times, "Review: ‘First Reformed’ Is an Epiphany. Ethan Hawke Is, Too.," 17 May 2018 The entire process, by being externalized, seems repeatable, unlike the chance encounters of poets with their muses. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, "Jenny Xie Writes a Sightseer’s Guide to the Self," 30 Apr. 2018 In a way Elizabeth was always internalizing everything and Margaret was always externalizing everything, so that became the basis. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Vanessa Kirby on Playing "Tragic" Princess Margaret in 'The Crown'," 4 Nov. 2016 Their methods for coping with this as adults are different: Kate externalizes her guilt, but Kevin internalizes it. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "A Devastating 'This Is Us' Theory Explains Why Kevin Can't Talk About Jack's Death," 20 Oct. 2017 Climate change is a textbook example of environmental justice, a concept that includes the idea that those causing environmental problems should be the ones to solve them without externalizing harm to others. Daniel Bednar, Slate Magazine, "Keeping an Eye on Climate Change," 27 Mar. 2017 By pressing subjects to execute specific poses and gestures, death photos helped the living externalize personal loss. Nancy West, The Atlantic, "Pictures of Death," 19 July 2017 But sometimes having your darkest anxieties externalized into gripping, scary theater can be a splendid means of catharsis. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "with the headline: Shakespeare’s Take on the Game of Thrones.," 4 Nov. 2016 To externalize something incredibly internal is so satisfying. Corey Atad, Esquire, "Those Three Text Message Dots Terrorize Kristen Stewart, Too," 10 Mar. 2017

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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The first known use of externalize was in 1852

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More Definitions for externalize


transitive verb
variants: or British externalise \ek-ˈstərn-ᵊl-ˌīz \
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 \ noun

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Comments on externalize

What made you want to look up externalize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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