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[awr-uh l, ohr-] /ˈɔr əl, ˈoʊr-/
uttered by the mouth; spoken:
oral testimony.
of, using, or transmitted by speech:
oral methods of language teaching; oral traditions.
of, relating to, or involving the mouth:
the oral cavity.
done, taken, or administered through the mouth:
an oral dose of medicine.
Phonetics. articulated with none of the voice issuing through the nose, as the normal English vowels and the consonants b and v.
  1. of or relating to the earliest phase of infantile psychosexual development, lasting from birth to one year of age or longer, during which pleasure is obtained from eating, sucking, and biting.
  2. of or relating to the sublimation of feelings experienced during the oral stage of childhood:
    oral anxiety.
  3. of or relating to gratification by stimulation of the lips or membranes of the mouth, as in sucking, eating, or talking.
Zoology. pertaining to that surface of polyps and marine animals that contains the mouth and tentacles.
an oral examination in a school, college, or university, given especially to a candidate for an advanced degree.
Origin of oral
1615-25; < Latin ōr- (stem of ōs) mouth (cognate with Sanskrit āsya) + -al1
Related forms
orality, noun
orally, adverb
nonoral, adjective
nonorally, adverb
postoral, adjective
suboral, adjective
unoral, adjective
unorally, adverb
Can be confused
oral, aural.
Usage note
1. See verbal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for oral


/ˈɔːrəl; ˈɒrəl/
spoken or verbal: an oral agreement
relating to, affecting, or for use in the mouth: an oral thermometer
of or relating to the surface of an animal, such as a jellyfish, on which the mouth is situated
denoting a drug to be taken by mouth: an oral contraceptive Compare parenteral
of, relating to, or using spoken words
(phonetics) pronounced with the soft palate in a raised position completely closing the nasal cavity and allowing air to pass out only through the mouth
  1. relating to a stage of psychosexual development during which the child's interest is concentrated on the mouth
  2. denoting personality traits, such as dependence, selfishness, and aggression, resulting from fixation at the oral stage Compare anal (sense 2), genital (sense 2), phallic (sense 2)
an examination in which the questions and answers are spoken rather than written
Derived Forms
orally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin orālis, from Latin ōs face
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for oral

1620s, from Late Latin oralis, from Latin os (genitive oris) "mouth, opening, face, entrance," from PIE *os-/*ous- "mouth" (cf. Sanskrit asan "mouth," asyam "mouth, opening," Avestan ah-, Hittite aish, Middle Irish a "mouth," Old Norse oss "mouth of a river," Old English or "beginning, origin, front"). Psychological meaning "of the mouth as the focus of infantile sexual energy" (e.g. oral fixation) is from 1910. The sexual sense is first recorded 1948, in Kinsey. As a noun, "oral examination," attested from 1876. Related: Orally (c.1600); orality.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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oral in Medicine

oral o·ral (ôr'əl)

  1. Of or relating to the mouth.

  2. Used in or taken through the mouth.

  3. Of or relating to the first stage of psychosexual development in psychoanalytic theory, in which the mouth is the focus of exploration and pleasure.

o'ral·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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oral in Science
Relating to or involving the mouth.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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