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 The game itself didn’t bare much extrinsic weight, similar to Povich’s home debut at Camden Yards. Sam Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 13 June 2024 Old fashioned extrinsic motivators would work here. Eli Amdur, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 But 2024 will be a big year of extrinsic influences. Rich Karlgaard, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 To do this right, business models have to think about intrinsic and extrinsic value creation in their analysis. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Herzberg made the key distinction between extrinsic (to the job itself) factors, which only reduce dissatisfaction, and intrinsic ones that ultimately create positive satisfaction and motivation. John Rau, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Beginning to think maybe autoimmunity is not something intrinsic — something wrong with an individual’s body — but there’s an extrinsic force acting on it. Isabella Cueto, STAT, 23 Oct. 2023 There are actually two kinds of tooth stains: surface stains on the outside of the tooth (extrinsic) and staining goes into the inside of the tooth (intrinsic). Rachel Murphy, Verywell Health, 2 Aug. 2023 Even so, Saville told me that such benchmarks are extrinsic to her artistic process. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 24 July 2023

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 15 Jul. 2024.

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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