[ek-sturn; for 3 also ik-sturn]


a person connected with an institution but not residing in it, as a doctor or medical student at a hospital.
a nun of a strictly enclosed order, as the Carmelites, who resides inside the convent but outside its enclosure and who chiefly goes on outside errands.


Archaic. external; outer.

Origin of extern

1525–35; < Latin externus, derivative of exter, exterus. See exterior
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Historical Examples of extern

British Dictionary definitions for extern




US a person, such as a physician at a hospital, who has an official connection with an institution but does not reside in it

Word Origin for extern

C16: from Latin externus external
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for extern

"outsider," c.1600, from French externe, from Latin externus (see external).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for extern




An advanced student or recent graduate who assists in the medical or surgical care of hospital patients and may reside outside the institution.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.