Definition of verbal in English:



  • 1Relating to or in the form of words.

    ‘the root of the problem is visual rather than verbal’
    ‘verbal abuse’
    • ‘The Democratic governors who witnessed the verbal assault were likewise restrained in their reaction.’
    • ‘The conversations between the bird beings sound as ‘bird brained’ as the rather mindless verbal dilly-dallying of the humans.’
    • ‘He loves the verbal jousting almost as much as the 90 minutes.’
    • ‘But there is a certain standard of verbal dexterity that is expected in politicians at this level.’
    • ‘Perhaps indirect rather than direct verbal strategies and nonverbal communication would be preferable in some relationships.’
    • ‘I didn't feel up for more verbal abuse, but I still wondered where he was taking me.’
    • ‘Then there are the random moments like that when verbal communication breaks through.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, some politicians are prepared to trade verbal punches rather than attend to the country's business.’
    • ‘Why are they often able to deter attacks using merely verbal threats?’
    • ‘After protracted verbal sparring followed by hand-to-hand combat, Harry defeats Riddle by stabbing the diary.’
    • ‘Music may have meaning, but it is an imprecise language, a language of suggestion and imagery rather than verbal description.’
    • ‘The camera remains centered on the individuals as they speak, but pulls back when verbal confrontations occur.’
    • ‘The highly verbal quality of their construction can prove an insurmountable obstacle to their success as a film.’
    • ‘Joan interrupted their verbal jousting by stepping forward and taking the bottle out of Zeke's hand.’
    • ‘‘It's nice to finally see Silsden getting some visible support rather than just verbal support,’ she said.’
    • ‘Tests at twelve months showed marginal improvement in verbal fluency associated with estradiol declines.’
    • ‘He loves this verbal jousting as a dodge for his academic laziness.’
    • ‘He has verbal dexterity and rhyming skills which very few rap artists have.’
    • ‘He gave Rafe a parting thump along with a touch more verbal abuse and left us alone.’
    • ‘From absolutely nowhere Syrah ran into the verbal battle, speaking with venom in her normally controlled voice.’
    1. 1.1Spoken rather than written; oral.
      ‘a verbal agreement’
      • ‘Here as well, purely verbal concessions were made to demands for international control.’
      • ‘We proceeded with the understanding that this verbal agreement would eventually be formalized in writing.’
      • ‘The councillors did reverse themselves on this matter after two written and two verbal submissions from me.’
      • ‘Previous studies by the group have shown that depressed persons making serious suicide attempts have impaired verbal fluency.’
      • ‘She gave a verbal agreement to appear in the 1992 film, Boxing Helena.’
      • ‘Written and verbal invitations to community representatives to dialogue with the company have not been taken up.’
      • ‘The experimenter wrote verbal protocols down verbatim.’
      • ‘Verbal fluency Participants were asked to produce as many grocery items as possible during 60 seconds.’
      • ‘SL stated that despite there being no written contract there was a verbal agreement and that would stand up in law.’
      • ‘Patients received written and verbal instructions on proper inhaler technique at screening and at each of the study visits.’
      • ‘A verbal agreement can hold more weight than, or even entirely supercede, a written one.’
      • ‘Healthcare providers may need to write ‘exercise prescriptions’ rather than give verbal advice to frail older adults.’
      • ‘Patients who understand and can apply written or verbal information and instructions have better outcomes.’
      • ‘They have extraordinary verbal skills and written skills.’
      • ‘Manchester United have reportedly reached a verbal agreement with Barcelona on a fee for the England captain.’
      • ‘I received several written as well as verbal follow-ups to ensure I was happy and not having any problems.’
      • ‘This can be accomplished by employing consistent verbal descriptors in both oral speech and written materials.’
      • ‘Monday's hearing heard written and verbal testimonies from family members of the deceased and from medical staff.’
      • ‘By being in the frame, I could direct scenes from within, rather than giving verbal directions to my actors in-between scenes.’
      • ‘These beliefs were grounded in memory, experience, and observation rather than verbal instruction or religious revelation.’
      oral, spoken, said, uttered, articulated, expressed, stated, verbalized, vocal, unwritten, by mouth, word-of-mouth
      viva voce
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Tending to talk a lot.
      ‘he's very verbal’
      • ‘Second, Crow suggests that evolutionary processes were greatly accelerated by female selection of highly verbal males.’
  • 2Grammar
    Relating to or derived from a verb.

    ‘a verbal adjective’
    • ‘It is unlikely that such a verb as organize will shift, because of its verbal suffix: no Let's have an organize.’
    • ‘Among other particular features of Albanian and other Balkan languages are a postpositive definite article and the absence of a verbal infinitive.’
    • ‘The past forms of nominal sentences are verbal sentences because of the verb of existence which expresses the past tense.’
    • ‘Nominal, adjectival, and verbal expressions can, however, be ‘coerced’ into serving a non-prototypical function.’


  • 1A word or words functioning as a verb.

    1. 1.1A verbal noun.


It is sometimes said that the true sense of the adjective verbal is ‘of or concerned with words,’ whether spoken or written (as in verbal abuse), and that it should not be used to mean ‘spoken rather than written’ (as in a verbal agreement). For this strictly ‘spoken’ sense, it is said that the adjective oral should be used instead. In practice, however, verbal is well established in this sense and, even in legal contexts, a verbal agreement is understood to mean a contract whose accepted terms have been spoken rather than written


Late 15th century (describing a person who deals with words rather than things): from French, or from late Latin verbalis, from verbum word (see verb).