Definition of oral in English:



  • 1Spoken rather than written; verbal.

    ‘they had reached an oral agreement’
    • ‘Campers' discoveries are shared in journal writing, sketching and oral presentation, but they have plenty of time for snorkeling in the ocean and playing on the beach.’
    • ‘It focuses on oral communication rather than written communication, which is vital in communities where there are many people who are not literate.’
    • ‘Awareness of fabrication and false teaching has long existed but became a major issue in academic circles in the twentieth century due to early reliance on oral, rather than written, transmission.’
    • ‘As Ruby and Brown point out in, military records often differed from Spokane versions, which generally assumed an oral, rather than written, form.’
    • ‘He also had written or oral testimony in his support from 27 witnesses, all but five government officials like him.’
    • ‘Primarily, the issue is one of non-disclosure of documents rather than oral testimony.’
    • ‘A lot of the material has been transcribed, which means not only that the material can be read but also that cross referencing from the written to the oral form is a straightforward process.’
    • ‘In this case, and clearly in many others, there was no written or oral tradition that preserved the author's reasoning for later generations of students.’
    • ‘For example, there is a strong emphasis now on teaching the tricky subject of maths, through an oral technique, rather than the old format of writing it down in your copybook.’
    • ‘There was no evidence of any agreement whether in writing or oral.’
    • ‘Depending on the nature of the specific disability, the student may benefit from oral instruction, written instruction, or demonstration.’
    • ‘The second option includes writing and presenting an oral defense of a graduate thesis.’
    • ‘My idea is to divide my time doing practice in the mornings and evenings and then to do either written or oral translations during the day.’
    • ‘They rely on oral interviews rather than written ones.’
    • ‘But, over the next month, they are expected to deliver written or oral responses to the issues paper, before the inquiry receives final submissions in early August.’
    • ‘The governing body may also be represented and may make written and oral representations.’
    • ‘The notice may be given orally or in writing and takes effect when received; but the agreement may require an oral notice to be confirmed in writing.’
    • ‘They also gain a little confidence in public speaking through their oral reports to the class.’
    • ‘I find that this security agreement was primarily oral, but it was also partially written.’
    • ‘He also published widely in the teaching of oral language, writing, and methodology.’
    spoken, verbal, unwritten, by mouth, vocal, viva voce, uttered, said
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    1. 1.1 Relating to the transmission of information or literature by word of mouth.
      ‘oral literature’
      ‘a society with an oral tradition’
      • ‘Addressing themselves to village audiences and carrying on the tradition of oral literature, they use Tok Pisin exclusively and do not rely on scripts.’
      • ‘The Dinka tradition of oral literature is extensive and a considerable amount has been recorded.’
      • ‘Chapter 1 surveys ancient oral literature, storytelling, and the novel.’
      • ‘Parts of the early oral literature was recorded by M. Khorenatsi, a fourth-century historian.’
      • ‘The system had been used to record oral literature but had ultimately been abandoned.’
      • ‘Folk literature from the oral tradition to the printed word encompasses four major types: legends, myths, fables, and fairy tales.’
      • ‘The literary tradition in Equatorial Guinea is oral rather than written.’
      • ‘A body of oral literature is being assembled at the Office of Cultural Affairs and has been partially transcribed.’
      • ‘I think that it is perhaps true that it is only recorded in the magazine, but I think there has been an oral tradition that has kept it alive.’
      • ‘African Americans relied on an oral tradition, unlike Euro-Americans whose expertise came from magazines and books.’
      • ‘We often therefore speak of oral traditions, but the most important element in an oral tradition is not so much the spoken word as it is human memory.’
      • ‘As an oral tradition, Druidry does not anchor itself with scientific or historical facts; instead it breathes, shaping itself through stories ancient and modern.’
      • ‘The Mordvins have retained a rich body of oral literature and music, much of which was recorded in the Soviet era.’
      • ‘The Asmat have a great deal of oral literature, but no written tradition.’
      • ‘Like the slaves, immersed from birth in an oral tradition, she sings the recipe to retain the words.’
      • ‘But the oral tradition and literature aren't the same.’
      • ‘African radio stations have been important patrons of music and, in some countries, of poetry and oral literature.’
      • ‘The songs and poetry represent oral literature passed on to performers by their teachers.’
      • ‘Folktales also played a major role in oral literature and their subject matter ranged from love to heroism to supernatural acts.’
      • ‘‘I grew up with this history as an oral tradition, as we all did,’ says Wilson.’
    2. 1.2 (of a society) not having reached the stage of literacy.
      • ‘It is unfortunate that Inuit are an oral society, because this great knowledge is not being recognized or understood.’
      • ‘Walter Ong has shown that the thinking processes for oral cultures are significantly different from those in societies where literacy has become widespread.’
      • ‘Computational media can have the same fundamental impact on our individual lives and our societies as reading and writing had to move us from oral to literal societies.’
      • ‘We face problems when our ingrained literacy is brought to oral cultures.’
      • ‘Basque Americans have been relatively slow to establish a literary tradition, in part because so much of their background was based on an oral culture.’
      • ‘Russia has always been primarily an oral culture in which a wide range of folkloric genres and traditions has flourished and provided the primary form of entertainment.’
      • ‘He studied authors from the past along with modernists like Joyce, Eliot, and Pound, remarking how increased literacy altered oral cultures like Homeric Greece.’
      • ‘Indeed, the effect of the Internet on a largely oral society like Sierra Leone will be profound.’
      • ‘Missionaries also developed written forms of Pacific Islander languages that were previously nonexistent in the predominantly oral culture.’
  • 2Relating to the mouth.

    ‘oral hygiene’
    • ‘Maintaining good oral hygiene, including toothbrushing and visiting your dentist or hygienist regularly, is a crucial part of caring for your teeth.’
    • ‘Epidemiological evidence show the incidence of esophageal and oral cancers is rising in recent years.’
    • ‘Signs of dehydration include increased thirst, fatigue, dry oral mucosa, and decreased urinary output.’
    • ‘Encourage the child to begin rudimentary brushing; however, parents should remain the primary caregiver in oral hygiene procedures.’
    • ‘As with all oral cancers, it spreads from the oral cavity to the submandibular and cervical lymph nodes.’
    • ‘Scientists know that alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the oral cavity, oesophagus, and liver.’
    • ‘Oral odours are best treated through meticulous oral hygiene and optimal dental care.’
    • ‘Dental screening should be performed at each visit to evaluate for caries and other pathology, and to monitor oral hygiene.’
    • ‘The patient's oral hygiene was very poor with extensive gingivitis.’
    • ‘Dentists value the oil for its antiseptic qualities and its gentleness to surrounding oral mucous membranes.’
    • ‘Hence moderate intake coupled with oral hygiene and dental care is advised.’
    • ‘Brushing your teeth is only part of a good oral hygiene program, says a professor at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.’
    • ‘The chronic exposure to silver compounds both in medical and industrial settings can lead to permanent bluish-black discoloration of oral and nasopharyngeal mucosa.’
    • ‘Maintenance of good oral hygiene and dental care are important.’
    • ‘Sites involved include the oral cavity, anus, and genital mucosa.’
    • ‘These days Listerine is advertised only for oral hygiene.’
    • ‘Severe communication difficulties, such as lack of a larynx or oral structures, did not preclude meaningful participation.’
    • ‘Cigarettes are the main causative factors for lung, oral, oesophageal, stomach, bladder, kidney, pancreas and cervical cancer.’
    • ‘Maintenance of oral hygiene is fundamental to the success of the treatment.’
    • ‘Rarely, the oral, esophageal or ocular mucosa may be involved.’
    1. 2.1 Done or taken by the mouth.
      ‘oral contraceptives’
      • ‘Currently, oral contraceptives cost an average of $25 to $30 per month by prescription.’
      • ‘If your blood pressure increases significantly, you may have to try a different oral contraceptive or switch to a different form of birth control.’
      • ‘Selected community pharmacists have made an NHS supply of oral emergency contraception available to 2000 women in the past year.’
      • ‘Over 20 years he'd published more than 100 papers and reports on cardiovascular disease and the oral contraceptive.’
      • ‘These young women were compared with 27 members of the cohort who had never used oral contraceptives by age 21.’
      • ‘Any woman who had ever been pregnant, had a positive pregnancy test, or used estrogen replacement therapy or oral contraceptives was excluded from the study.’
      • ‘In both cases, the depression responded to treatment with oral contraceptives.’
      • ‘Not every woman tolerates oral contraceptives as well as you do, but doctors frequently prescribe them for hard-to-treat acne.’
      • ‘Newer oral contraceptives, with lower levels of ovarian steroids, allow follicular growth, but ovulation usually does not occur.’
      • ‘They are essentially high dose oral contraceptives.’
      • ‘Pharmacists who object to dispensing oral contraceptives on religious grounds might find it awkward to quiz a woman about the reason for the prescription.’
      • ‘The women in the study were 18 to 44 years of age, were ovulating normally, and were not taking oral contraceptives.’
      • ‘Some medications (such as steroids or oral contraceptives) may also lead to hypertension.’
      • ‘Limitations of this study include the low number of women using oral contraceptives.’
      • ‘Should oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy be discontinued before surgery?’
      • ‘The data do not suggest that use of oral contraceptives can interrupt an established pregnancy.’
      • ‘For even lower doses, fluoxetine is also available as an oral solution and as a 10 mg capsule.’
      • ‘There has been little input from the clinicians who prescribe oral contraceptives or from the women who use them.’
      • ‘Accumulating side effects might lead women to switch their oral contraceptives.’
      • ‘Approximately 80 percent of U.S. women born since 1945 have used oral contraceptives.’
    2. 2.2Phonetics (of a speech sound) pronounced by the voice resonating in the mouth, as the vowels in English.
      Compare with nasal (sense 2 of the adjective)
      • ‘12 vowels are distinguished; six oral vowels and six nasal vowels.’
    3. 2.3Psychoanalysis (in Freudian theory) relating to or denoting a stage of infantile psychosexual development in which the mouth is the main source of pleasure and the centre of experience.
      • ‘But the research evidence linking actual deprivation with the later development of oral behaviour or character is weak.’
      • ‘This behavior ties directly into the oral fixation theories.’


  • A spoken examination or test.

    ‘a French oral’
    • ‘I was wondering if I should sign up for orals for this Saturday, so that Wednesday would be my last day.’
    • ‘But there was a catch: she had to finish her dissertation and pass her orals in just one year.’
    • ‘I'd also just like to apologise in advanced if the quality of my English diminishes somewhat this week as I cram my head full of French in preparation for my French oral on Friday.’
    • ‘I had my orals yesterday and just finished my History exam a while ago.’
    • ‘There were a bunch of people (three of them) hanging around the outside of the consultation room (where our orals were scheduled to be), and we all started talking and comparing answers for the thesis questions.’
    • ‘My French oral is going to be on either the 12th or 13th of May.’
    • ‘I'm meeting my study group for lunch today, but I'm pretty much ready for orals.’
    • ‘The exams are just around the corner and students are bogged down with preparation work for practicals and orals but the Transition year students found time to raise funds for those less fortunate.’
    • ‘Exam students should do their orals and practical exams for a week at Easter or just before the written exams in June instead.’
    • ‘The thesis defense is probably just like a more terrifying, more stringent form of orals.’
    • ‘I will most likely have my French oral, and possibly one or two other exams.’
    • ‘We don't even know whether we are going to have our orals next week.’
    • ‘If it goes on after Easter, then there will be major confusion when the orals and the practicals begin.’
    • ‘For this reason traditional unstructured orals and long cases have largely been discontinued in North America.’
    • ‘In the now modular examinations for entry to the Royal College of General Practitioners, a candidate must pass each component, including the orals, to pass overall.’
    • ‘Well, it should have been yesterday, but I was preoccupied with preparing for my French oral.’
    • ‘She tests us on her weekly columns, gives sudden projects and papers and orals due the next day, and asks impossible things.’
    • ‘This website has been very useful to be because I am in year 7 and this website has helped me find a piece of world news to do my oral on.’
    • ‘Today was ok, except my French oral went horribly wrong.’
    • ‘Taps also came out of the orals room similarly dazed.’
    oral examination
    View synonyms


See verbal and aural


Early 17th century: from late Latin oralis, from Latin os, or- ‘mouth’.