I'm looking for a word that refers to the state of being external or internal as a noun. Something like "ternality" or "ternalness" if those were words.


"The 'ternality' of the door was external."

  • 1
    The only word that I can think of that might fit would be "orientation": "The orientation of the door was external." This would mean that it's true position was external. – Benjamin Harman Jan 12 '16 at 5:49
  • @BenjaminHarman Yeah, I thought about that, but it's a little broad for what I'm looking for. I want something that explicitly refers to just that set. The word probably doesn't exist, but I figured I'd look around. – Morgan Thrapp Jan 12 '16 at 5:50
  • A related word that refers to the quality of being in one state or its mirror image is chirality (synonym: handedness). Not exactly what you're looking for, but in a context in which external doors were mirror images of internal doors, this just might work. – user152004 Jan 12 '16 at 9:54

If something is internal, it's obviously bounded by the limits of whatever it's contained within (a house, your body, etc.). If it's external it must be outside those limits (it's not bounded). So...

boundedness - the quality or state of being bounded (Merriam-Webster)

For an obviously "boolean" attribute like this, it's also perfectly natural to simply use a word identifying one of the two possible states. Just as we can refer to the truth of a statement (an "attribute" whose value can be either true or false), so we could refer to the...

internality - the quality or fact of being internal (in various senses) (OED)

...where the possible values of the boolean attribute are internal and external.

  • That's good, but that has more of the context of physical dimensions than what I'm looking for. – Morgan Thrapp Jan 12 '16 at 14:35
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    @Morgan: I think you need to unbound your mind and accept that most language use is "metaphorical". Especially when you're trying to name something that's rarely referenced (or even conceived of as an "attribute") in normal life. – FumbleFingers Jan 12 '16 at 14:43
  • Good point. I suspect there isn't a word that perfectly encapsulates what I'm looking for, I'm just curious to see if there is. – Morgan Thrapp Jan 12 '16 at 14:59
  • @Morgan: Your only example (internal/external door) specifically relates to inside/outside a building or similar. If that's the only kind of distinction you want to reference, there might be a more appropriate term (but it'll probably still be an unusual / "neologistic" usage). Or you could just go with internality (OED: The quality or fact of being internal), which in context could considered be a "binary" attribute (akin to talking about the truth of a statement, when we mean the state of being either true or false). – FumbleFingers Jan 12 '16 at 15:19
  • Actually, I like using internality as a boolean state. That works perfectly. Thank you! – Morgan Thrapp Jan 12 '16 at 15:24

I read the great responses above. I thought about it and developed these two to explain both dimensions:

1. Inexternal, inexternality 
2. Exinternal, exinternality. 

These words are using "in" interior and "ex" exterior to describe both internal and external state/condition of being/object/response.

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