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

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 Elysha Cruz did her research before visiting with her 10-year-old son Angelo, who is autistic and nonverbal, and 17-year-old daughter Alena. Michelle Maltais, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2022 This version has extremely restrictive requirements for an autism diagnosis, such as showing deficits in nonverbal communication, displaying social issues, using repetitive speech, and difficulty maintaining relationships. Zhara Astra, Scientific American, 7 Apr. 2022 At a young age, the boy was nonverbal, and doctors measured his IQ to be below 30. Joe Didonato, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 But Demi had just one sister who was nonverbal and has passed away. Steve Helling,, 14 Mar. 2022 But three months after leaving the hospital, the girl still needed to use a wheelchair and was nonverbal, the study authors wrote. NBC News, 2 Mar. 2022 Abusive supervision is a subordinate’s perception of sustained hostile verbal and nonverbal supervisory behavior, but does not include physical contact. Morteza Mahmoudi, STAT, 13 Feb. 2022 The latest trailer does a highly strategic job of keeping Hammer’s close-ups and medium shots nonverbal and in the 0.4 to 0.7-second duration range. Michael Phillips,, 9 Feb. 2022 But even her nonverbal displays always speak volumes. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 26 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nonverbal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on nonverbal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nonverbal

Nglish: Translation of nonverbal for Spanish Speakers


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