1. Relating to, existing on, or connected with the outside or an outer part; exterior.
2. Suitable for application to the outside: external paints.
3. Existing independently of the mind.
4. Acting or coming from the outside: external pressures.
5. Of or relating chiefly to outward appearance; superficial: "An internal sense of righteousness dwindles into an external concern for reputation" (A.R. Gurney, Jr.)
6. Of or relating to foreign affairs or foreign countries: the country's minister of external affairs.
1. An exterior part or surface.
a. Outer circumstances.
b. Outward appearances: was charming as far as the externals went.
[Middle English, from Latin externus, outward, from exter; see eghs in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.