[awr-uh l, ohr-]



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

Related Words for orally

personally, spoken

Examples from the Web for orally

Historical Examples of orally

  • The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be.

  • It is a waste of the student's time to present orally that which can be found in print.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • They may read the questions silently, answering them orally.

    Where We Live

    Emilie Van Beil Jacobs

  • To the sound ou he prefixes an e (hard to exemplify otherwise than orally).

    The Biglow Papers

    James Russell Lowell

  • But who guarantees that we shall have what was orally promised to us?

British Dictionary definitions for orally



spoken or verbalan oral agreement
relating to, affecting, or for use in the mouthan 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 mouthan 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 stageCompare anal (def. 2), genital (def. 2), phallic (def. 2)


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 orally



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

orally in Medicine




Of or relating to the mouth.
Used in or taken through the mouth.
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.

orally in Science



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