Definition of extern in US English:



  • 1North American A person working in but not living in an institution, such as a nonresident doctor or other worker in a hospital.

    • ‘Three weeks before the scheduled event, residents and externs are required to begin their search for a scientific article that answers clinical questions or raises innovative ideas.’
    • ‘Collaboration between the extern or intern, clinical educator, and preceptor is extremely important if the student is to successfully achieve the goals.’
    • ‘Evaluations of the program from preceptors, interns, and externs demonstrate that the program has provided an excellent foundation of knowledge on which to build.’
    • ‘The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations standards that pertain to the extern role are presented in class.’
    • ‘There would also be controls on recruitment and tightening up of costs in relation to waste management, charged services and extern costs.’
    • ‘This early socialization process is important because it recognizes that the nurse extern is a team member and provides a sense of permanence.’
    • ‘I worked at the hospital with three more externs, shifting to a new section of the hospital each quarter.’
    • ‘For the student nurse in the extern role, this translates to practicing in the perioperative setting the critical-thinking, interpersonal, and technical skills learned in school.’
    • ‘Nurse externs work under the direct supervision of preceptors in a variety of settings.’
    • ‘In terms of skills, externs often function in a role similar to that of a nursing assistant.’
    1. 1.1 A student participating in a temporary training program in a workplace.
      ‘she worked as a judicial extern for two US federal judges’
      ‘the opportunity to shadow alumni mentors as externs provides students with experience impossible to gain in the classroom’
      • ‘If you were an extern at the French Laundry, your first job would most likely be peeling carrots.’
      • ‘Opportunities for doing the skills lead the externs to higher levels of competency.’
      • ‘Each year up to six students will be chosen to work as paid summer externs.’
      • ‘Sponsors and students should jointly determine the extern's role in his/her experience as well as the length of the externship.’
      • ‘She has already resumed her rigorous stollen-baking schedule, a regimen into which she was indoctrinated as an overworked extern at Bouley.’
      • ‘What I and the two other externs didn't know was that each kitchen recruited and ‘bid’ for a particular extern.’
      • ‘This university program does not create an employment relationship between the extern and the sponsor.’
      • ‘During that time, I took a break to serve as an extern on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.’
      • ‘Each semester Justice Clark had three to five law students working for him as externs.’
      • ‘She worked as a judicial extern for two US federal judges as well as a trainee at the European Commission's Legal Service.’
  • 2(in a strictly enclosed order of nuns) a sister who does not live exclusively within the enclosure and goes on outside errands.

    • ‘In the miniature society of the cloister, numbering between ten and eleven sisters and an extern or two, her success meets some of the same responses a successful worldly artist would find.’
    • ‘The two other externs, whose duties often prevented them from having time for silent meditation, had also chosen to remain.’
    • ‘These three sisters are the externs at the convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra where Sister Lucia lived for 57 years.’


Mid 16th century (as an adjective in the sense ‘external’): from French externe or Latin externus, from exter ‘outer’. The word was used by Shakespeare to mean ‘outward appearance’; current noun senses date from the early 17th century.