adjective ex·tra·ne·ous \ ek-ˈstrā-nē-əs \
|Updated on: 24 Jun 2018

Definition of extraneous

1 : existing on or coming from the outside
  • extraneous light
2 a : 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





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Examples of extraneous in a Sentence

  1. 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 GoreAn Inconvenient Truth2006
  2. 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. EdgeGourmetJune 2003
  3. 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 Weekly18 May 2001
  4. She sped up the process by eliminating all extraneous steps.

  5. the architect's streamlined modern style shuns any sort of extraneous ornamentation

Recent Examples of extraneous from the Web

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.

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").

Origin and Etymology of extraneous

Latin extraneus — more at strange

Synonym Discussion of 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

EXTRANEOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of extraneous for English Language Learners

  • : not forming a necessary part of something : not important

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