Meaning of EXTERNAL in English

ex ‧ ter ‧ nal W2 AC /ɪkˈstɜːnl $ -ɜːr-/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Word Family: adverb : ↑ externally ≠ ↑ internally ; adjective : ↑ external ≠ ↑ internal ]

[ Word Family: adverb : ↑ internally ≠ ↑ externally ; adjective : ↑ internal ≠ ↑ external ]

[ Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: Latin ; Origin: externus , from exter 'on the outside' , from ex 'out' ]

1 . OUTSIDE PART relating to the outside of something or of a person’s body OPP internal :

the external appearance of the building

For external use only (=written on medicines which must be put on your skin and not swallowed)


In everyday English, people usually say outside rather than external :

The outside walls of the building were painted yellow.

2 . EFFECT relating to your environment or situation, rather than to your own qualities, ideas etc SYN outside :

Low birth weight may be caused by external factors, such as smoking during pregnancy.

influences from the external environment

3 . ORGANIZATION coming from or happening outside a particular place or organization OPP internal :

information from external sources

4 . FOREIGN relating to foreign countries OPP internal :

China will not tolerate any external interference in its affairs.

external affairs/relations

the Minister of External Affairs

5 . INDEPENDENT British English coming from outside a particular school, university, or organization, and therefore independent OPP internal

external examination/examiner

external auditors (=someone from outside who looks at an organization’s finances)

—externally adverb :

The job should be advertised internally and externally.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.