ex·​trin·​sic ek-ˈstrin-zik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio) -ˈstrin(t)-sik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio)
: not forming part of or belonging to a thing : extraneous
: originating from or on the outside
especially : originating outside a part and acting upon the part as a whole
extrinsic muscles of the tongue
ek-ˈstrin-zi-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce extrinsic (audio)
Choose the Right Synonym for extrinsic

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

Examples of extrinsic in a Sentence

You have to consider any extrinsic factors in the success of the business. the fact that the ring belonged to your grandmother is extrinsic to its value to a jeweler
Recent Examples on the Web Even so, Saville told me that such benchmarks are extrinsic to her artistic process. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 24 July 2023 This process is both intrinsic, when your own body causes new problems, and extrinsic, when environmental insults damage your tissues. Ellen Quarles, Fortune Well, 7 July 2023 Intergenerational collaboration, like other forms of diversity, has intrinsic and extrinsic value. Mark A. Cohen, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2023 And there’s extrinsic pressure to keep pushing computing forward: not just for bragging rights, although those are cool, but because better simulations could lead to new drug discoveries, new advanced materials or new Nobel Prizes that keep the country on top. Sarah Scoles, Scientific American, 9 Feb. 2023 Feel free to include some research on a growth mindset, which leaves room for making mistakes and learning from them, as well as studies on the positive outcomes associated with intrinsic motivation (meaning, an inner desire to learn) over extrinsic motivation (grades, parental approval). Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2020 Leaders must appreciate the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to be motivated to develop a KPB and convert it into a habit. Bill Howatt, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2023 Individuals can also work on actualization such as practicing getting through real-life challenges in the virtual world, building skills, and intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to increase self-efficacy. Colleen Reilly, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2022 But not all types of motivation are equivalent: intrinsic motivation is, in many contexts, more durable than extrinsic motivation. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 18 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'extrinsic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French & Late Latin; French extrinsèque, from Late Latin extrinsecus, from Latin, adverb, from without; akin to Latin exter outward and to Latin sequi to follow — more at exterior, sue

First Known Use

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of extrinsic was in 1613

Dictionary Entries Near extrinsic

Cite this Entry

“Extrinsic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrinsic. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ex·​trin·​sic ek-ˈstrin-zik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio) -ˈstrin(t)-sik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio)
: not being part of or belonging to a thing : extraneous
extrinsically adverb

Medical Definition


ex·​trin·​sic ek-ˈstrin-zik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio) -ˈstrin(t)-sik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio)
: originating or due to causes or factors from or on the outside of a body, organ, or part
renal tumors or cysts … causing extrinsic compression of the renal vasculatureScientific American Medicine
: originating outside a part and acting on the part as a whole
used especially of certain muscles
the extrinsic muscles of the tongue
compare intrinsic sense 2
extrinsically adverb

Legal Definition


ex·​trin·​sic ek-ˈstrin-zik, -sik How to pronounce extrinsic (audio)
: not contained in or occurring in something (as a contract)

More from Merriam-Webster on extrinsic

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