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From Middle French externe + -al, from Latin externus, from exter, exterus (on the outside, outward).



external (comparative more external, superlative most external)

  1. Outside of something; on the exterior.
    This building has some external pipework.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Of all external things, [] / She [Fancy] forms imaginations, aery shapes.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      Her virtues graced with external gifts.
  2. Not intrinsic nor essential; accidental; accompanying; superficial.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Trench
      The external circumstances are greatly different.
  3. Foreign; relating to or connected with foreign nations.
    external trade or commerce; the external relations of a state or kingdom
  4. (anatomy) Away from the mesial plane of the body; lateral.
  5. Provided by something or someone outside of the entity (object, group, company etc.) considered.



Related terms[edit]



external (plural externals)

  1. (chiefly in the plural) The exterior; outward features or appearances.
  2. (programming) In the C programming language, a variable that is defined in the source code but whose value comes from some external source.

Further reading[edit]