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 nonverbal (audio) \ adverb

Examples of nonverbal in a Sentence

Facial expressions are very important for nonverbal communication.
Recent Examples on the Web For instance, one student featured in the reporting is autistic and nonverbal. The Courier-Journal, "Courier Journal project on JCPS' use of psychiatric evaluations on kids receives honor," 13 Apr. 2021 The workshops focus on nonverbal expression, building community, and liberation from oppression., "Artist creates a space for healing on Zoom: ‘You’re stepping into resilience just by showing up’," 9 Apr. 2021 At a gas pump, what are essentially tacit nonverbal contracts are executed as each individual agrees to pay for the amount of gas pumped on the spot. Andrew Bruce, Forbes, "It's Time For Modern Enterprise To Automate Transactions," 9 Apr. 2021 Authorities said the incident occurred around 10:45 a.m. while Randolph was on a walk with a nonverbal autistic student on the campus of Sebring High School. Wilson Wong, NBC News, "Florida educator caught on video abusing nonverbal autistic student, officials say," 9 Apr. 2021 Gilpeer would like to see more FC for nonverbal people with autism. Washington Post, "It took a woman with autism 25 years to find her voice. Now she’s telling her story.," 9 Apr. 2021 The movie garnered poor reviews, as well as criticism for the casting of neurotypical actress Maddie Ziegler as a nonverbal autistic woman and its depictions of autism, like one scene where Ziegler’s character is held in a prone restraint. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, "Sia Partners With NASA to Celebrate Mars Rover Mission in ‘Floating Through Space’ Video," 7 Apr. 2021 Xavier was the type of kid who scored highly in nonverbal reasoning tests. Helen Oyeyemi, Harper's BAZAAR, "Read An Excerpt from Helen Oyeyemi's New Novel, Peaces," 5 Apr. 2021 Nemerov’s book, to its credit, depicts her art not as a collision of art-historical icebergs but as the result of a personal practice, of nonverbal habits, of a way of being in the world. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Helen Frankenthaler and the Messy Art of Life," 5 Apr. 2021

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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The first known use of nonverbal was in 1846

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Statistics for nonverbal

Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nonverbal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nonverbal

Nglish: Translation of nonverbal for Spanish Speakers

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