\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

The oral chemotherapy drug the inmate requested cost $20,000 for a four-week cycle. Mark Alesia, Indianapolis Star, "Lawsuit: Former Marion County Jail inmate says he was denied his cancer treatment," 18 June 2018 The study, which used a national database of Medicare and private health insurance claims from 38,000 patients in 2014 and 2015, found that 18 percent of patients didn’t fill an oral drug prescription after it was approved by their insurance. Sarah Gantz, Philly.com, "TV's 'Roseanne' can't afford her prescription medication, either," 28 Mar. 2018 The company is also developing an oral psoriasis drug. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Escalier Biosciences raises $19 million," 16 Mar. 2018 Treatment involves oral drugs that kill the pinworms and thorough washing of bedding and underwear. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Kristen Bell got anal worms from her 3-year-old daughter. It can happen to you | The Kansas City Star," 2 Mar. 2018 The new price of a 30-dose canister of the oral spray is $329.50, up from around $40. Robert Langreth And Cynthia Koons, BostonGlobe.com, "Many drugmakers ignore Trump — and raise prices anyway," 13 July 2018 Image The research indicates that carb rinsing can enhance performance when fluids are swished around the mouth for five to 10 seconds, the longer the better as more oral receptors come into contact with carbohydrates. New York Times, "That Spitting Thing at the World Cup? It’s Probably ‘Carb Rinsing’," 11 July 2018 At the time of its conception, it was considered mainly to be an oral work delivered to a listening public. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Oldest Known Section of 'The Odyssey' Found on Clay Tablet," 11 July 2018 Because of the evaluations’ breadth, our scores can also provide information on judicial traits other than political ideology: ability, temperament, trial practice or oral argument style, settlement style and opinion quality. Kevin Cope, Washington Post, "Exactly how conservative are the judges on Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court? Take a look at this one chart.," 7 July 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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Phrases Related to oral

oral tradition

Statistics for oral

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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