\ ˈȯr-əl How to pronounce oral (audio) , ˈär-\

Definition of oral

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : uttered by the mouth or in words : spoken oral traditions
b : using speech or the lips especially in teaching the deaf
2a : of, given through, or involving the mouth oral health an oral vaccine
b : being on or relating to the same surface as the mouth
3a : of, relating to, or characterized by the first stage of psychosexual development in psychoanalytic theory during which libidinal gratification is derived from intake (as of food), by sucking, and later by biting
b : of, relating to, or characterized by personality traits of passive dependency and aggressiveness



Definition of oral (Entry 2 of 3)

: an oral examination usually used in plural


geographical name
\ ȯ-ˈräl How to pronounce Oral (audio) \
variants: or Uralsk \ ü-​ˈrälsk How to pronounce Uralsk (audio) , yu̇-​ˈralsk \

Definition of Oral (Entry 3 of 3)

city on the Ural River in western Kazakhstan population 202,161

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Other Words from oral


orality \ ȯ-​ˈra-​lə-​tē How to pronounce orality (audio) , ō-​ \ noun
orally \ ˈȯr-​ə-​lē How to pronounce orally (audio) , ˈär-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for oral

Synonyms: Adjective

spoken, uttered, vocal, voiced

Antonyms: Adjective


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Examples of oral in a Sentence


She practices good oral hygiene by brushing her teeth at least twice a day. As part of her oral examination, she had to recite the names of all the presidents.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Justice had to miss oral arguments in court for the first time in her 25 years on the Supreme Court, due to a recent medical problem. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Back on the Bench, and Seems as Healthy as Ever," 20 Feb. 2019 Another oral argument in the case is set for February. Nicole Hong, WSJ, "UNC Defends Admissions Policies in Suit Alleging Unfair Racial Preferences," 18 Jan. 2019 Treatment typically involves an antibiotic, either through a topical gel or oral medication, and can be cleared up within a week in most cases. Samantha Lefave, Redbook, "Why You Should Never Ignore Sweet-Smelling Urine (or These Other Body Odors)," 3 Aug. 2018 Available as oral medications or intravenous infusions, both forms of bisphosphonates have been shown to reduce fracture risk, prevent recurrent hip fractures, and reduce the risk of death after hip fractures. Farah Naz Khan, Vox, "Doctors are blasé about bone health and it’s leading to more broken bones in the elderly," 30 July 2018 When hormonal therapies fail to abate the disease, enzalutamide, an oral medication, can offer an alternative. Renae Reints, Fortune, "New Treatment for Aggressive Prostate Cancer Shows 71% Lower Risk of Spread or Death," 28 June 2018 Your veterinarian can prescribe oral medications that can last 30 days or give an injectable that can last six months. Cathy M. Rosenthal, San Antonio Express-News, "Products proven to kill your cat’s fleas," 8 June 2018 Ticks on Your Pets There’s a variety of oral medications that keep fleas and ticks from living for very long on your dog. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "Are You Ready for Ticks This Summer?," 14 May 2018 Both oral medications work by blocking the enzyme that herpes uses to copy itself and spread to other cells. Becky Little, Smithsonian, "Can We Gene-Edit Herpes Away?," 23 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oral.' 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 oral


1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1876, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for oral


Latin or-, os mouth; akin to Old Norse ōss mouth of a river, Sanskrit ās mouth

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Statistics for oral

Last Updated

7 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oral

The first known use of oral was in 1597

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English Language Learners Definition of oral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to the mouth
used to describe a medicine that you eat or swallow
: spoken rather than written



English Language Learners Definition of oral (Entry 2 of 2)

: a test in which you answer questions by speaking rather than by writing : an oral examination


\ ˈȯr-əl How to pronounce oral (audio) \

Kids Definition of oral

1 : spoken entry 2 sense 1 an oral agreement
2 : of, involving, or given by the mouth an oral medication oral hygiene

Other Words from oral

orally adverb


\ ˈōr-əl, ˈȯr-, ˈär- How to pronounce oral (audio) \

Medical Definition of oral

1a : of, relating to, or involving the mouth : buccal the oral mucous membrane
b : given or taken through or by way of the mouth an oral vaccine an oral suspension of a drug
c : acting on the mouth oral diseases
2 : emphasizing lipreading and the development of vocal expression in teaching the deaf — compare manual sense 2
3a : of, relating to, or characterized by the first stage of psychosexual development in psychoanalytic theory during which libidinal gratification is derived from intake (as of food), by sucking, and later by biting
b : of, relating to, or characterized by personality traits of passive dependence and aggressiveness — compare anal sense 2, genital sense 3, phallic sense 2

Other Words from oral

orality \ ȯ-​ˈral-​ət-​ē, ō-​ How to pronounce orality (audio) \ noun, plural -ties
orally adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on oral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oral

Spanish Central: Translation of oral

Nglish: Translation of oral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oral for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oral

Comments on oral

What made you want to look up oral? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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