exterior, external, extraneous, extrinsic
1. The four words are related, and all have meanings based on outside. Exterior and external both refer to the outside of things in contrast to the inside

• (Most manufacturers describe their exterior wall paints as masonry paint —Do It Yourself Magazine, 1991)

and medicine is for external use when it is applied to the outside of the body; but exterior is generally physical only, whereas external is also applied in abstract or figurative meanings

• (Changes in staff, changes in curriculum and increasing external demands making planning a chancy business —M. Sullivan, 1991)

the external world is the world beyond one's perception. As a noun, however, exterior has the abstract meaning ‘the outward or apparent behaviour or demeanour of a person’:

• How about your pal Ivan? Does he have sensitive feelings under that Neanderthal exterior? —D. Ramsay, 1973

• Bob, who hides a sparky humour behind a grizzled exterior, said tenants who were taking his beers were doing it on a ‘belligerent, sod-the-brewer basis’ —What's brewing?, 1991.

External is used as a noun generally in the plural to mean ‘the outward aspects or circumstances’:

• The place has all the appropriate externals, chimneys choked with ivy, windows with jasmine, worm-eaten shutters, mossy thatch —P. Tristam, 1989

• Eventually he found all forms of religion involving ‘externals’ and ordinances unsatisfying —Dictionary of National Biography, 1993

• Add to that his inability to nail the externals of his characters' lives and his failure to conjure the campus mood (never mind the national zeitgeist), and the result is a disappointingly empty novel —weblog, IndE 2004.

2. Something that is extraneous is introduced or added from outside and is foreign to the object or entity in which it finds itself. Uses are both physical and abstract:

• Several other insects attach extraneous objects or material to themselves, but for very different reasons —M. & T. Birkhead, 1989

• A moment later any extraneous thoughts were driven from his mind —I. Watson, 1993.

Extraneous points are irrelevant matters brought into a discussion from which they have been excluded or to which they do not properly belong:

• We were properly prevented by the law from making any extraneous comment beyond what we had agreed with Ian and his lawyers —Liverpool Daily Echo, 2005.

Something that is extrinsic is not an essential and inherent part of the thing in question, and is often contrasted with intrinsic:

• Motivation may be considered as either intrinsic or extrinsic; intrinsic motives include those of exploration and curiosity, and extrinsic those of status and social approval —B. O'Connell, 1973

• Your personal belongings may be frugal and of little extrinsic value, but when they are lost or stolen, the cost of replacement can be surprisingly high —S. Meredeen, 1988.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Extraneous — Ex*tra ne*ous, a. [L. extraneus, from extra. See {Extra }, {Strange}.] Not belonging to, or dependent upon, a thing; without or beyond a thing; not essential or intrinsic; foreign; as, to separate gold from extraneous matter. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • extraneous — I adjective additional, alien, alienus, aside from the point, coming from without, derived from without, dispensable, extra, extraneus, extrinsic, extrinsical, foreign, impertinent, inapplicable, inapposite, incidental, inconsequent,… …   Law dictionary

  • extraneous — [adj1] unneeded; irrevelant accidental, additional, adventitious, beside the point, extra, foreign, immaterial, impertinent, inadmissible, inapplicable, inapposite, inappropriate, incidental, inessential, needless, nonessential, off the subject,… …   New thesaurus

  • extraneous — [ek strā′nē əs, ikstrā′nē əs] adj. [L extraneus, external, foreign < extra: see EXTRA ] 1. coming from outside; foreign [an extraneous substance] 2. not truly or properly belonging; not essential 3. not pertinent; irrelevant SYN. EXTRINSIC… …   English World dictionary

  • extraneous — 1630s, from L. extraneus external, strange, from extra outside of (see EXTRA (Cf. extra )) …   Etymology dictionary

  • extraneous — *extrinsic, foreign, alien Analogous words: external, exterior, outside, *outer, outward: adventitious, *accidental, incidental Antonyms: relevant Contrasted words: intrinsic, inherent, ingrained, constitutional: intestine, internal, inner,… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • extraneous — ► ADJECTIVE 1) irrelevant or unrelated to the subject. 2) of external origin. DERIVATIVES extraneously adverb extraneousness noun. ORIGIN Latin extraneus …   English terms dictionary

  • extraneous — adjective Etymology: Latin extraneus more at strange Date: 1638 1. existing on or coming from the outside < extraneous light > 2. a. not forming an essential or vital part < extraneous ornamentation > b. having no relevance < an extrane …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • extraneous — extraneously, adv. extraneousness, n. /ik stray nee euhs/, adj. 1. introduced or coming from without; not belonging or proper to a thing; external; foreign: extraneous substances in our water. 2. not pertinent; irrelevant: an extraneous remark;… …   Universalium

  • extraneous — ex|tra|ne|ous [ıkˈstreıniəs] adj formal [Date: 1600 1700; : Latin; Origin: extraneus foreign, strange , from extra; EXTRA ] 1.) not belonging to or directly related to a particular subject or problem = ↑irrelevant extraneous to ▪ Such details are …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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