• synonyms


[ik-stur-nl-iz-uh m]
  1. attention to externals, especially excessive attention to externals, as in religion.
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Origin of externalism

First recorded in 1855–60; external + -ism
Related formsex·ter·nal·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for externalism

Historical Examples

  • The fallacy of the Socialist program is not in its radicalism, but in its externalism.

    The Profits of Religion, Fifth Edition

    Upton Sinclair

  • The externalism in which most of our lives are spent makes the effort to look within a painful contradiction of habit.

  • A religion violently imposed from without as a state-religion naturally tends to hypocrisy and externalism.

  • To a Christian all this has its defects—formalism, externalism, needless narrowness.

  • They tore off the accumulated husks of externalism, but kept intact the real kernel of religion.

British Dictionary definitions for externalism


  1. exaggerated emphasis on outward form, esp in religious worship
  2. a philosophical doctrine holding that only objects that can be perceived by the senses are real; phenomenalism
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Derived Formsexternalist, noun
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