\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from oral


orality \ ȯ-​ˈra-​lə-​tē How to pronounce orality (audio) , ō-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for oral

Synonyms: Adjective

spoken, uttered, vocal, voiced

Antonyms: Adjective


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Justices on the Alaska Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday morning in the lawsuit over oil and gas tax credit bonds that could have major ramifications for the state’s financial future. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court hears arguments over bill to pay off credits through bonds," 12 Sep. 2019 The 6-foot, 195-pound defensive back made an oral commitment to the Ducks in April while finishing up his sophomore year. Los Angeles Times, "Narbonne safety Anthony Beavers Jr. says Oregon is ‘right place’ for him," 9 Sep. 2019 In the Massachusetts hearing last month, Purdue relied on the lower per pill market share in oral arguments before the judge and in the accompanying slide presentation of data. David Armstrong, ProPublica, "Data Touted by OxyContin Maker to Fight Lawsuits Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story," 9 Sep. 2019 It's been a busy and productive recruiting season with 20 players in the 2020 class making non-binding oral commitments to the program. Rana Cash, The Courier-Journal, "How many football games will Louisville and Kentucky win? See win projections," 26 June 2019 Here is a list of the oral commitments to Temple, now up to 14. Marc Narducci, Philly.com, "Temple adds three more football commitments," 22 June 2018 The team has received oral commitments so far from Joey Yellen of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Ethan Long of West Linn High in Oregon for the Class of 2019. Clevis Murray, azcentral, "ASU's Herm Edwards shares positive message with coaches, athletes," 11 June 2018 Jones becomes the second oral commitment for the 2019 UC class, along with La Salle High School linebacker Brody Ingle. Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Bearcats football team lands commitment from 6-foot-8 Kentucky prep QB," 9 May 2018 The prevalence of both genital and oral herpes simplex virus infections has declined steadily since 2000. Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, "Herpes Is Slowly Retreating, but the Infection Remains Common," 9 Feb. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oral

Statistics for oral

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oral

The first known use of oral was in 1597

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for oral



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 oralities
orally adverb

Keep scrolling for more

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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!