from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make external.
  • transitive v. To manifest externally: "Marriage is a nice way to externalize the private commitments made between you” ( Patti Davis).
  • transitive v. To attribute to outside causes.
  • transitive v. To project or attribute (inner conflicts or feelings) to external circumstances or causes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make something external or objective
  • v. To represent something abstract or intangible as material; to embody
  • v. To attribute emotions etc to external circumstances; to project
  • v. To direct to others, as costs or benefits.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To make external; to manifest by outward form.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To embody in an outward form; give shape and form to.
  • To confer the quality of externality or external reality upon; invest with actual objectivity: a word used in modern psychology to indicate a mental operation whereby, for instance, one's name arising in the mind as a subjective concept is heard as a word spoken from without, and therefore as a sense-percept.
  • Also spelled externalise.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make external or objective, or give reality to
  • v. regard as objective


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • They're also unwittingly suffering from our economic system's lack of full-cost accounting, which has made it perfectly acceptable for companies to "externalize" their negative social and environmental impacts and shift the burdens of these impacts, financial and otherwise, to society at large.

    Jeffrey Hollender: Five Things Business Leaders Must Do in 2011

  • I would think that it was in the millions or billions of dollars - costs that the companies simply "externalize" onto the environment, and thus onto everybody else, while keeping all the "profits" - "profits" in quotes because the money made is actually stolen from everybody else.

    EPA Lets Miners Dump In Waterways

  • My reasoning, if it could be called such, is that this way I kind of externalize the PTSD… sort of, like, um, interact with it in some conscious way… sort of turn it into something I can imagine managing.

    Why I’m Currently Blogging Life is Like a Bad RPG | Spontaneous ∂erivation

  • It also pushes businesses to cut worker safety protections, cut product quality, cut customer service, "externalize" costs by polluting, etc.

    Dave Johnson: Businesses Do Not Create Jobs

  • Sparkling moments: To "externalize" a problem is not necessarily to solve it.

    Rewriting Life Stories

  • Those who target the workplace fit a general profile: they are primarily white males who have few social supports, tend to "externalize" or blame others for their problems and are preoccupied with weapons.

    Waging War In The Workplace

  • I "externalize" my memory of such technological glitches and fixes.

    The reality of knowledge work

  • While GDP continues to "externalize" all those social and environmental costs, it keeps blinding politicians and government officials to all their risks to society: from global warming, epidemics and resource depletion to poverty gaps, and social exclusion.


  • These aren't ambulance-chaser lawsuits-the Roberts Court is essentially insulating corporations from suits from their owners and customers, when such suits are often the only recourse when firms "externalize" their costs in loose regulatory environments.

    Dissident Voice

  • The ability to "externalize" one's view of one's life arose in the late 19th century.



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