View synonyms for verbal


[ vur-buhl ]


  1. of or relating to words:

    verbal ability.

  2. consisting of or in the form of words:

    verbal imagery.

  3. expressed in spoken words; oral rather than written:

    verbal communication; verbal agreement.

    Synonyms: spoken

  4. consisting of or expressed in words (as opposed to actions):

    a verbal protest.

  5. pertaining to or concerned with words only (as opposed to ideas, facts, or realities):

    a purely verbal distinction between two concepts.

  6. corresponding word for word; verbatim:

    a verbal translation.

  7. using words:

    verbal facility.

  8. based on the use of words (as opposed to other activity):

    a verbal score in a test; verbal IQ.

  9. Grammar.
    1. of, relating to, or derived from a verb:

      verbal nouns and adjectives.

    2. used in a sentence as or like a verb.
    3. used to form verbs:

      the verbal ending “-ed.”


  1. Grammar.
    1. a word derived from a verb, especially one used as a noun or an adjective, as, in English, a gerund, participle, or infinitive.
    2. a word or words used in a sentence as or like a verb.


/ ˈvɜːbəl /


  1. of, relating to, or using words, esp as opposed to ideas, etc

    merely verbal concessions

  2. oral rather than written

    a verbal agreement

  3. verbatim; literal

    an almost verbal copy

  4. grammar of or relating to verbs or a verb


  1. grammar another word for verbid
  2. slang.
    plural abuse or invective

    new forms of on-field verbals

  3. slang.
    plural a criminal's admission of guilt on arrest


  1. slang.
    (of the police) to implicate (someone) in a crime by quoting alleged admission of guilt in court

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Usage Note

Verbal has had the meaning “spoken” since the late 16th century and is thus synonymous with oral: He wrote a memorandum to confirm the verbal agreement. Slightly earlier, verbal had developed the meaning “expressed in words, whether spoken or written (as opposed to actions)”: Verbal support is no help without money and supplies. Although some say that the use of verbal to mean “spoken” produces ambiguity, it rarely does so. Verbal is used in this sense in all varieties of speech and writing and is fully standard. The context usually makes the meaning clear: No documents are necessary; a verbal agreement (or contract or order ) will suffice. Oral can be used instead of verbal if the context demands: My lawyer insists on a written contract because oral agreements are too difficult to enforce.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈverbally, adverb

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Other Words From

  • ver·bal·ly adverb
  • non·ver·bal adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of verbal1

First recorded in 1485–95; from Middle French, from Latin verbālis, equivalent to verb(um) “word, speech” + -ālis adjective sufix; word, -al 1

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Example Sentences

Most members of the San Diego City Council boycotted Tuesday’s closed session hearing in protest of City Attorney Mara Elliott’s decision to provide verbal rather than written legal reports after someone leaked information last week to NBC 7.

The review board report ultimately concluded that Browder’s actions were reasonable only if he’d shouted verbal commands to Nehad prior to shooting him.

Hernandez told investigators she reported being fearful of “verbal attack.”

When staff finally released him –after everyone else in his building – he got into a verbal dispute with an officer who was working on the floor that night.

Do you know how when we grew up, students would call themselves, proudly, verbal kids or math kids, so you could get an 800 on the verbal section even though you didn’t like numbers and you never had to encounter them.

These were cops who had worked the protests and suffered the accompanying verbal taunts and abuse.

And then there was the unrelenting verbal abuse of cops simply because they are cops.

In movies, that language, visual and verbal, has yet to be mastered.

He reiterated the statements “I am not a politician” and “I am not a political advisor” so often that it seemed like a verbal tic.

Because of the verbal abuse and death threats coming my way, these women seemed to identify with me.

These are few and verbal, but momentous, and were not made without consultation of many critical authorities and versions.

A verbal narrative has of course in itself nothing similar to the scenes and events of which it tells.

These brilliant results were arrived at after much clamour and argument and imposing procès verbal.

I resolved to investigate the matter, as it was only verbal, so that it might not become public.

When thus acting his authority may be either verbal, or written, or may be shown by ratification.


Related Words




verbverbal abuse