Looking for a word to refer to context outside a novel being discussed.

I suppose I'd need an adjective referring to 'novel' first - my brain conjured up "novelular". It seems to have been used on occasion, but I wonder if there is a more... standard word to refer to the idea.

Extranovelular was what I'd go for, but if anyone has a less silly solution I'm all ears.

E.g: "with regards to context outside the novel,..." -> "with regards to extranovelular context".

  • 2
    I'm a little unclear on what you are looking for...do you mean like 'in-universe' and 'out-of-universe'? Mar 24, 2020 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


Currently, the most common forms of those words are, as user Rattler suggests in the comments, 'in-universe' and 'out-of-universe' (our Movies & TV sister site has 618 hits for 'in-universe', and 358 for 'out-of-universe').

'Diegetic' and 'non-diegetic', or the (far) less common 'intradiegetic' and 'extradiegetic', are quite specialist terms, used mainly in film theory and narratology (with 'non-diegetic' pertaining to sounds heard by viewers, and not by characters):

Diegetic, according to Lexico, is that which is

occurring within the context of the story and able to be heard by the characters.

The other words are taken from the work of Gérard Genette, referenced and neatly summarized in this Wikipedia article on diegesis:

Diegesis is multi-levelled in narrative fiction. Genette distinguishes between three "diegetic levels". The extradiegetic level (the level of the narrative's telling) is, according to Prince, "external to (not part of) any diegesis." One might think of this as what we commonly understand to be the narrator's level, the level at which exists a narrator who is not part of the story being told. The diegetic level or intradiegetic level is understood as the level of the characters, their thoughts and actions.

'Non-diegetic', then, is to be interpreted as the antithesis of diegetic.

Less common synonyms of both words, according to Wiktionary, are 'Watsonian' and 'Doylist', respectively. They are 'fanspeak', but sound too mellifluous to omit:


From an in-universe perspective; of or relating to an explanation within the text; internal to the narrative.


From a real-world perspective; of or relating to an explanation outside the text; external to the narrative.

Fun fact: according to Google Ngram, the word 'in-universe' seems to arise in the late 1940's, but only in the American English corpus (perhaps related to superhero fiction?).

  • Thank you, this is most helpful!
    – tewharvey
    Mar 25, 2020 at 18:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.