[awr-uh l, ohr-]
  1. uttered by the mouth; spoken: oral testimony.
  2. of, using, or transmitted by speech: oral methods of language teaching; oral traditions.
  3. of, relating to, or involving the mouth: the oral cavity.
  4. done, taken, or administered through the mouth: an oral dose of medicine.
  5. Phonetics. articulated with none of the voice issuing through the nose, as the normal English vowels and the consonants b and v.
  6. Psychoanalysis.
    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
  7. Zoology. pertaining to that surface of polyps and marine animals that contains the mouth and tentacles.
  1. 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 formso·ral·i·ty, nouno·ral·ly, adverbnon·o·ral, adjectivenon·o·ral·ly, adverbpost·o·ral, adjectivesub·o·ral, adjectiveun·o·ral, adjectiveun·o·ral·ly, adverb
Can be confusedoral aural

Usage note

1. See verbal.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for nonoral


  1. spoken or verbalan oral agreement
  2. relating to, affecting, or for use in the mouthan oral thermometer
  3. of or relating to the surface of an animal, such as a jellyfish, on which the mouth is situated
  4. denoting a drug to be taken by mouthan oral contraceptive Compare parenteral
  5. of, relating to, or using spoken words
  6. 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
  7. psychoanal
    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 stageCompare anal (def. 2), genital (def. 2), phallic (def. 2)
  1. an examination in which the questions and answers are spoken rather than written
Derived Formsorally, adverb

Word Origin for oral

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

Word Origin and History for nonoral



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

nonoral in Medicine


  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.
Related formsoral•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

nonoral in Science


  1. Relating to or involving the mouth.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.