oral·​ism ˈȯr-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce oralism (audio)
: advocacy or use of the oral method of teaching the deaf
oralist noun

Examples of oralism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Alexander Graham Bell has long been a polarizing figure, admired as the brilliant inventor of the telephone and other extraordinary devices, but also despised as the leading exponent of oralism, the movement that pressured deaf people to learn speech and, more important, not to learn sign language. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2021 By the time Ami Tsuji-Jones enrolled at the deaf school in the 1960s, oralism was seen by critics as a failure. Corinne Chin, CNN, 8 Oct. 2021 The oralism Bell championed was a disaster for the deaf. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2021 But as oralism came to dominate deaf education, largely through Bell’s reputation, deaf communities responded by further embracing sign. BostonGlobe.com, 8 Apr. 2021 Bonet’s approach combined oralism—using sounds to communicate—with sign language. National Geographic, 28 May 2019 And though oralism triumphed nationally, sign language won out as the preferred method of communication at Gallaudet. Matthew Davis, The Atlantic, 10 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oralism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1883, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of oralism was in 1883

Dictionary Entries Near oralism

Cite this Entry

“Oralism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oralism. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


: advocacy or use of the oral method of teaching the deaf
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