\ˈȯr-əl, 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 \
variants: or Uralsk \ü-​ˈrälsk, 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, ō-​ \ noun
orally \ˈȯr-​ə-​lē, 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

If these don't cut it, a prescription-strength topical medication or oral antibiotic may be recommended by your derm. Mona Gohara, Good Housekeeping, "5 Reasons You're Getting Back Acne — And How to Make It Go Away," 7 Dec. 2018 If that doesn't work: Ask your doctor about oral spironolactone, which is usually used to treat cardiovascular issues. Kelsey Castañon, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About Acne — and How to Get Rid of It," 4 Dec. 2018 In most early-stage cases, Lyme disease can be treated with oral antibiotics for a period of two to three weeks, and the patient can make a full recovery. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Reducing your risk of Lyme disease as the threat increases," 10 July 2018 But if any of these steps moves faster than expected, the Court may schedule oral arguments for earlier. Dara Lind, Vox, "A federal appeals court just ruled against Trump on DACA," 8 Nov. 2018 Colburn discussed the bone-chilling winter conditions in his 1977 oral-history interview. WSJ, "Archangel Endnotes," 9 Nov. 2018 Seven women reported receiving a blood transfusion, and 26 reported receiving antibiotics (route of administration (IV or oral) could not be determined). Julia Belluz, Vox, "Abortions by mail are available now in the US. Here’s what you need to know.," 20 Oct. 2018 Their vitamin D levels, as well as two measurements for diabetes — fasting plasma glucose and oral glucose tolerance — were recorded. Amy Capetta, Woman's Day, "What Is Vitamin D Good For Anyway?," 19 Oct. 2018 If low levels of iron, or high levels of male hormones, like androgens, are contributing to your hair loss, for example, both can be treated through oral supplements or medication. Jessica Chia, Allure, "The Best Hair Loss Treatments for Every Budget," 15 Oct. 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

12 Dec 2018

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 \

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- \

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-​ \ 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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