If, as a kid, you didn’t get what you wanted on your birthday, you were probably told that external, or outward, things can’t bring happiness. (It’s a noble idea, but it’s still up for debate, at least in some circles.)

External contains the prefix ex- meaning “out of.” It shares this prefix with a number of other words including extraterrestrial (meaning “outside of Earth’s limits") and exclude (meaning “keep someone out”). The opposite of external is internal; again, as you’ve probably been told, it’s the internal things that really matter. What we’re wondering is: Does that include the leather interior in our dream convertible?

Definitions of external
  1. adjective
    happening or arising or located outside or beyond some limits or especially surface
    “the external auditory canal”
    external pressures”
    being on or toward the outside of the body
    originating or belonging beyond some bounds:"the outside world"
    relating to or being on or near the outer side or limit
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    happening or arising or located within some limits or especially surface
    inside or closer to the inside of the body
    inside and toward a center
    (of conflict) within a group or organization
    situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts
    relating to or being on the side closer to the center or within a defined space
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  2. adjective
    coming from the outside
    synonyms: extraneous, outside
    not forming an essential part of a thing or arising or originating from the outside
  3. adjective
    purely outward or superficial
    external composure”
    “"an external concern for reputation"- A.R.Gurney,Jr.”
    relating to physical reality rather than with thoughts or the mind
  4. noun
    outward features
    “he enjoyed the solemn externals of religion”
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    type of:
    characteristic, feature
    a prominent attribute or aspect of something
  5. adjective
    from or between other countries
    external commerce”
    synonyms: international, outside
    of concern to or concerning the affairs of other nations (other than your own)
Word Family