ex·​tra·​ne·​ous | \ek-ˈstrā-nē-əs \

Definition of extraneous 

1 : existing on or coming from the outside extraneous light

2a : not forming an essential or vital part extraneous ornamentation

b : having no relevance an extraneous digression

3 : being a number obtained in solving an equation that is not a solution of the equation extraneous roots

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from extraneous

extraneously adverb
extraneousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for extraneous

extrinsic, extraneous, foreign, alien mean external to a thing, its essential nature, or its original character. extrinsic applies to what is distinctly outside the thing in question or is not contained in or derived from its essential nature. sentimental value that is extrinsic to the house's market value extraneous applies to what is on or comes from the outside and may or may not be capable of becoming an essential part. arguments extraneous to the issue foreign applies to what is so different as to be rejected or repelled or to be incapable of becoming assimilated. techniques foreign to French cuisine alien is stronger than foreign in suggesting opposition, repugnance, or irreconcilability. a practice totally alien to her nature

Did You Know?

We'll try not to weigh you down with a lot of extraneous information about the word extraneous, but we will tell you that it has been a part of the English language since at least 1638. It derives from the Latin word extraneus, which literally means "external." Extraneus is also the root of the words strange and estrange ("to alienate the affections or confidence of").

Examples of extraneous in a Sentence

Obviously, some degree of packaging is necessary to transport and protect the products we need, but all too often manufacturers add extraneous wrappers over wrappers and layers of unnecessary plastic. — Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006 Industry sages argue that lump charcoal is poised for a back-to-the-future resurgence. They say that a new generation of consumers—aware that most briquettes are shot through with all manner of extraneous materials, from fillers of pulverized limestone to binders of sugarcane bagasse and ignition catalysts of sodium nitrate—are willing to pay the two-buck-a-bag premium for true lump, which, compared to traditional briquettes, lights quicker, burns hotter, and throws off no chemical residue. — John T. Edge, Gourmet, June 2003 The summer concert season is at hand, which means lots of warm nights wishing the guy in the row behind you would bogart that joint instead of blowing smoke into your hair, and lots of days spent wondering just how many extraneous … charges one ticket can possibly have added on. Entertainment Weekly, 18 May 2001 She sped up the process by eliminating all extraneous steps. the architect's streamlined modern style shuns any sort of extraneous ornamentation
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

For mathematicians, pi obscures some of the underlying symmetries of mathematics and muddies up what should be elegant with extraneous factors of two. Randyn Charles Bartholomew, Scientific American, "Let's Use Tau--It's Easier Than Pi," 25 June 2014 Masks can help block extraneous light for sensitive eyes, and software like f.lux (www.justgetflux.com) can help filter the blue light of computers and TV screens that disrupts our natural circadian rhythms. Karen Campbell, BostonGlobe.com, "Trouble sleeping? Let your senses be your guide," 12 July 2018 Taking a deeper dive, the difference in player compensation is even starker when accounting for the amount of extraneous cap charges NFL teams carry compared to NBA teams. Andrew Brandt, SI.com, "How NFL and NBA Contracts Differ, and What NFL Players Can Do to Change It," 10 July 2018 Human ears tolerate low levels of extraneous noise on a phone line, but computers can get tripped up by the smallest hiss or pop, producing transmission errors. Katie Hafner, New York Times, "Frank Heart, Who Linked Computers Before the Internet, Dies at 89," 25 June 2018 For instance, during a conversation, turn off extraneous sound sources, such as a TV or running water. Consumer Reports, Washington Post, "Hearing loss can be very isolating, hurting relationships with family and friends," 17 Feb. 2018 Sure, there are also parts that seem extraneous or simply don’t work, but the Duplasses never pretend to be masters of their craft. New York Times, "Two Dudes With a Camera," 18 May 2018 That request encompasses 832 emails, which amounts to 5,100 pages of text, repetitive content and extraneous metadata, Morris said. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Lake County Lines: Hunt on for retail options at proposed North Chicago development," 17 June 2018 Too many current superhero series are exhausting and weighted with extraneous heroes and sidekicks (CW's DC Comics series); dour themes and bloated seasons (Netflix's Marvel shows); or simply their own pretentiousness and mythology (FX's Legion). Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: 'Marvel's Cloak and Dagger' is exactly what a superhero TV show should be," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extraneous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of extraneous

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for extraneous

Latin extraneus — more at strange

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about extraneous

Share extraneous

Listen to Our Podcast about extraneous

Statistics for extraneous

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for extraneous

The first known use of extraneous was in 1638

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for extraneous



English Language Learners Definition of extraneous

: not forming a necessary part of something : not important

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on extraneous

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!