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 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 So one of the main directives was externalizing the events of the book. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "On Netflix’s complicated Hold the Dark shoot, gratitude was the hardest part," 3 Oct. 2018 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Externalize.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/externalize?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=e&file=extern09. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on externalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for externalize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with externalize

Nglish: Translation of externalize for Spanish Speakers

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delight or enjoyment

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