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:

  • extrinsic — ex·trin·sic /ek strin zik, sik/ adj: not contained in or occurring in something (as a contract) an extrinsic representation Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. extrinsic …   Law dictionary

  • extrinsic — extrinsic, extraneous, foreign, alien are comparable when they mean external to something or someone or to the true nature or original character of such thing or person. Extrinsic applies to something which is distinctly outside the thing in… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • extrinsic — ex‧trin‧sic [ɪkˈstrɪnsɪk, zɪk] adjective [only before a noun] formal relating to matters which affect the outer appearance or behaviour of something * * * extrinsic UK US /ekˈstrɪnzɪk/ adjective ► coming from outside a particular person or thing …   Financial and business terms

  • extrinsic — [ek strin′sik, eks trin′zik; ik strin′sik, ikstrin′zik] adj. [Fr extrinseque < L extrinsecus, from without, outer < exter, without + secus, following, otherwise < base of sequi, to follow: see SEQUENT] 1. not really belonging to the… …   English World dictionary

  • Extrinsic — Ex*trin sic, a. [L. extrinsecus; exter on the outside + secus otherwise, beside; akin to E. second: cf. F. extrins[ e]que. See {Exterior}, {Second}.] 1. Not contained in or belonging to a body; external; outward; unessential; opposed to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • extrinsic — 1540s, from Fr. extrinsèque, from L.L. extrinsecus (adj.), from L. extrinsecus (adv.) “outwardly,” from exter “outside” + in, suffix of locality, + secus “beside, alongside, originally following (related to sequi to follow; see SEQUEL… …   Etymology dictionary

  • extrinsic — [adj] foreign acquired, alien, exotic, exterior, external, extraneous, gained, imported, outer, outside, outward, superficial; concept 549 Ant. essential, integral, interior, intrinsic, necessary …   New thesaurus

  • extrinsic — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ not essential or inherent. DERIVATIVES extrinsically adverb. ORIGIN Latin extrinsecus outward …   English terms dictionary

  • extrinsic — adjective Etymology: 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 Date: 1613 1. a. not forming part of or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • extrinsic — extrinsically, adv. /ik strin sik, zik/, adj. 1. not essential or inherent; not a basic part or quality; extraneous: facts that are extrinsic to the matter under discussion. 2. being outside a thing; outward or external; operating or coming from… …   Universalium

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