Definition of external in English:

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Pronunciation: /ikˈstərnl/


1Belonging to or forming the outer surface or structure of something: the external walls
More example sentences
  • This arrangement of the ommatidia gives a smooth appearance to the external surface of the eye.
  • The antigen was more abundant in the zone adjacent to the plasma membrane than in the zone closer to the external wall surface.
  • Water was collected from the external surface of the wall when surrounded by a saturated atmosphere while P was developing.
outer, outside, outermost, outward, exterior
1.1Relating to or denoting a medicine or similar substance for use on the outside of the body: for external application only
More example sentences
  • The herbal medicines for external application are generally erosive and poisonous, and their dosages should be strictly handled.
  • Most of these patients also had adjuvant therapy such as external beam radiation, brachytherapy, or chemotherapy.
  • Previous studies have shown that the provision of external defibrillators and basic life support training to ambulance crews can improve survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest.
2Coming or derived from a source outside the subject affected: for many people the church was a symbol of external authority
More example sentences
  • Those who report, not to proper authorities, but to external sources abuse their positions of trust, he said.
  • We hypothesized that the source and term of external debt affects farm production decisions and, consequently, efficiency.
  • It is likely that such fluids were derived from crystallizing melts and no external source is necessarily required.
2.1Coming from or relating to a foreign country or an outside institution: responsibility for defense and external affairs
More example sentences
  • If one looks hard enough, one can even find beginnings of modernisation of internal and external institutions in the Middle Eastern heartland.
  • The main objective is to stop the farmers' dependence on external agencies and make them contribute towards protection of natural resources.
  • If the Treaty of Waitangi were ruled to come under the external affairs power, for example, it would be subject to interpretation in Canberra.
outside, independent, nonresident, from elsewhere
2.2 Computing (Of hardware) not contained in the main computer; peripheral.
Example sentences
  • Sure, there are the memory stick slots and USB ports, but how would you be holding the PSP and using an external hardware device to take photos?
  • Other interconnects may require concentrators or other external hardware.
  • Wireless connectivity and some features may require you to purchase additional software, services or external hardware.
2.3 Computing (Of storage) using a disk or tape drive rather than the main memory.
Example sentences
  • Talk of changes in giant TV technology, flash hard-drive memory, and new external storage options surface this month in Asia.
  • I talked to one guy whose idea of external storage was a USB disk.
  • A single performance-limiting factor of external hard disk drives has always been their interface.


1The outward features of something: the place has all the appropriate externals, such as chimneys choked with ivy and windows with jasmine
More example sentences
  • They appear different only in externals, just as milk is all the same though it comes from cows of different colour.
  • When we truly forget the self, there is no division between inside and outside, no division between yourself and externals.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, given his genuine good keen man externals, Wilkes also happened to be a lover of ballet and opera - he once went to Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman at Sydney Opera House - and he was a good friend of the artist Tony Fomison.
1.1Features that are only superficial; inessentials.
Example sentences
  • I've never been fully convinced by the Wittgenstein comparison as far as grasping reality goes, since Wittgenstein, for at least large portions of his life, seemed to be pretty big on free-floating externals.
  • Each can manifest itself either as an attitude, an authentic way of relating to the world, or as a style, in which only the externals of the attitude are practised without attention to its inner dictates.
  • Don't yield to the temptation to deal with externals in order to keep the conversation going, or to impress others.


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin, from Latin exter 'outer'.

Words that rhyme with external

colonel, diurnal, eternal, fraternal, infernal, internal, journal, kernel, maternal, nocturnal, paternal, supernal, vernal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ex·ter·nal

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