adjective ex·trin·sic \ ek-ˈstrin-zik , -ˈstrin(t)-sik \

Definition of extrinsic

1 a : not forming part of or belonging to a thing : extraneous
b : originating from or on the outside; especially : originating outside a part and acting upon the part as a whole
  • extrinsic muscles of the tongue
2 : external


play \ek-ˈstrin-zi-k(ə-)lē, -ˈstrin(t)-si-\ adverb

Examples of extrinsic in a Sentence

  1. You have to consider any extrinsic factors in the success of the business.

  2. the fact that the ring belonged to your grandmother is extrinsic to its value to a jeweler

Recent Examples of extrinsic from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of extrinsic

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

EXTRINSIC Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of extrinsic for English Language Learners

  • : not part of something : coming from the outside of something

Medical Dictionary


adjective ex·trin·sic \ ek-ˈstrin-zik , -ˈstrin(t)-sik \

medical Definition of extrinsic

1 : 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 vasculature
  • Scientific American Medicine
2 : 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 2


play \-zi-k(ə-)lē, -si-\ adverb

Law Dictionary


adjective ex·trin·sic \ ek-ˈstrin-zik, -sik \

legal Definition of extrinsic

: not contained in or occurring in something (as a contract)

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