ver·​bal | \ ˈvər-bəl How to pronounce verbal (audio) \

Definition of verbal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or consisting of words verbal instructions
b : of, relating to, or involving words rather than meaning or substance a consistency that is merely verbal and scholastic— B. N. Cardozo
c : consisting of or using words only and not involving action verbal abuse
2 : of, relating to, or formed from a verb a verbal adjective
3 : spoken rather than written a verbal contract
4 : verbatim, word-for-word a verbal translation
5 : of or relating to facility in the use and comprehension of words verbal aptitude



Definition of verbal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a word that combines characteristics of a verb with those of a noun or adjective — compare gerund, infinitive, participle

Synonyms & Antonyms for verbal

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of verbal in a Sentence

Adjective He scored well on the verbal section of the test. They had a verbal exchange. a verbal agreement to finish the work We gave only verbal instructions.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This was in addition to reported verbal outbursts and harassment. Nick Romano,, 9 Aug. 2022 Listening for intelligence forces leaders to observe the nuances in their counterparts’ body language, verbal delivery and word choice while capturing even the seemingly random or meaningless statements their counterparts make. Michael Reddington, Forbes, 9 Aug. 2022 McVay is up first, informing fans of his verbal pledge on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. Nick Alvarez |, al, 9 Aug. 2022 So, maybe gifted dogs are like people who score high on the verbal part of the SATs. Linda Carroll, NBC News, 5 Aug. 2022 Liz Cheney, a conservative lawmaker and defense hawk, immediately came under verbal attack from Trump and his allies, and in May of last year, she was ousted from her number-three House GOP leadership position. Paul Steinhauser, Fox News, 4 Aug. 2022 The veteran's bill, originally a bipartisan effort, quickly became a lightning rod for partisan aggression and the subject of impassioned verbal sparring. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 3 Aug. 2022 Cognitive performance was evaluated using an array of tests: immediate recall, late recall, recognition, semantic and phonemic verbal fluency and trail-making tests. Fortune, 2 Aug. 2022 Cognitive testing, which included immediate and delayed word recall, word recognition and verbal fluency were performed at the beginning and end of the study, and participants were asked about their diet. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'verbal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of verbal


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1530, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for verbal


Middle English verbale, borrowed from Late Latin verbālis, from Latin verbum "word, verb entry 1" + -ālis -al entry 1


borrowed from New Latin verbālis, noun derivative of Late Latin verbālis verbal entry 1

Learn More About verbal

Time Traveler for verbal

Time Traveler

The first known use of verbal was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near verbal



verbal abuse

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for verbal

Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Verbal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for verbal


ver·​bal | \ ˈvər-bəl How to pronounce verbal (audio) \

Kids Definition of verbal

1 : of, relating to, or consisting of words verbal communication
2 : spoken rather than written verbal testimony
3 : of, relating to, or formed from a verb a verbal adjective

Other Words from verbal

verbally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on verbal

Nglish: Translation of verbal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of verbal for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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