non·​ver·​bal | \ ˌnän-ˈvər-bəl How to pronounce nonverbal (audio) \

Definition of nonverbal

: not verbal: such as
a : not involving or using words Still, this pope projects eloquence in his off-the-cuff remarks or even during the long interludes between speeches when he is engaged in nonverbal communication with individuals and crowds.— John S. Driscoll … psychological aggression refers to both coercive verbal behaviors (e.g., insulting or swearing at partner) and coercive nonverbal behaviors that are not directed at the partner's body (e.g., slamming doors or smashing objects).— Alan E. Kazdin et al.
b : being other than verbal … some hidden, nonverbal quality of her life that could only be alluded to in the act of painting.— Diane Armitage
c : lacking or appearing to lack the ability to engage in speech She finds she can communicate with nonverbal children using drum beats, for example.— Robert S. Greenberger

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Other Words from nonverbal

nonverbally \ ˌnän-​ˈvər-​bə-​lē How to pronounce nonverbally (audio) \ adverb

Examples of nonverbal in a Sentence

Facial expressions are very important for nonverbal communication.

Recent Examples on the Web

Now a mom is saying it's helped her mostly nonverbal autistic son find his voice. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Mom says 'Old Town Road' got her nonverbal son singing," 11 June 2019 Castejon said his son is nonverbal, occasionally rocks back and forth and can become easily emotional. Shannon Hall, The Courier-Journal, "An Indiana teacher awards autistic boy with the ‘most annoying male’ trophy for the year," 5 June 2019 The nonverbal response from someone in attendance was embraced as a recognition of how absurd the claims were, even as others applauded in support. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A duchess winked behind Donald Trump’s back. What was she telling us?," 4 June 2019 The report doesn’t take into account kids who are nonverbal or less verbal than others and use screens to communicate. Laura Turner, Glamour, "The Big Problem With the New Screen Time Guidelines for Kids," 26 Apr. 2019 When a friend chooses to share their diagnosis with you, your verbal and nonverbal responses may impact their healing process and self-esteem. Emily Depasse, Teen Vogue, "What to Say if Your Friend Has Herpes," 16 Apr. 2019 Lucia—nicknamed LuBird—is in a wheelchair, legally blind, and nonverbal. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Why cities need accessible playgrounds," 20 July 2018 Other practices include making checklists in advance and nonverbal gestures, such as a pinch of the knee. New York Times, "The Boundary Between Abuse and B.D.S.M.," 23 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nonverbal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nonverbal

1846, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for nonverbal

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for nonverbal

The first known use of nonverbal was in 1846

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More Definitions for nonverbal



English Language Learners Definition of nonverbal

: not involving or using words
: not able to speak

More from Merriam-Webster on nonverbal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nonverbal

Nglish: Translation of nonverbal for Spanish Speakers

Comments on nonverbal

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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