ver·​bal | \ˈvər-bəl \

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

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Other Words from verbal


verbally \ˈvər-​bə-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for verbal

Synonyms: Adjective

lexical, linguistic (also linguistical), rhetorical (also rhetoric), vocabular, wordy

Antonyms: Adjective

nonlexical, nonlinguistic, nonverbal

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Examples of verbal in a Sentence


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Content warning: the following story contains sensitive material regarding physical and verbal abuse. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "The co-founder of a prominent tween girl YouTube network has been arrested for molesting a minor," 24 Sep. 2018 The verbal attacks against liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish, and whose political against activities have become the subject of a number of far-right conspiracy theories, have hit a fever pitch. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting comes amid a years-long rise in anti-Semitism," 27 Oct. 2018 Witnesses told deputies that several customers at Graffiti Junktion got into a verbal argument and were asked to leave the restaurant, Cannaday said. Lisa Maria Garza,, "One man dead, another critically injured after shooting at Colonial Town Park, Seminole deputies say," 8 July 2018 On June 26, Woodmore and Leon Webb, 27, of Detroit, got into a verbal argument and physical altercation at their workplace, the Final Kut barbershop at 13303 W Seven Mile Road. Marc Daalder, Detroit Free Press, "Barber from Plymouth charged in death of Detroit coworker," 3 July 2018 The officer stopped the car but found the couple was engaged in a heated verbal argument only. Samantha Swindler,, "Stroller abandoned in street had only a doll inside: Forest Grove police log," 11 June 2018 According to an affidavit, the dispute sparked a verbal argument between Tomes and the victims in the apartment complex's parking lot on Tuesday night. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Report: Upset over noisy kids, man opens fire on neighbors with AK-47," 18 May 2018 According to a police report, a verbal argument led to a physical altercation in a taxi cab. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Woman allegedly pushed out of a taxi by boyfriend and swung around by her ankles in St. Francis," 14 May 2018 Entrekin said a clear motive has not yet been determined, but witnesses say Henson and Gidley were in a verbal argument before the shot was fired. Carol Robinson,, "1 dead, 1 jailed after Thursday-night shooting in Etowah County," 23 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

All was one in a wave of recruits committing to Michigan this weekend as the Wolverines picked up four verbals from four different states on Sunday. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Recruiting Trail: Briggs, All highlight 8-commitment weekend," 25 June 2018 Colerain linebacker Luke Bolden announced his verbal commitment to the RedHawks on the final day of May. Bolden's commitment gives Miami 17 verbals so far for the '19 cycle, including four locals. John Snodgrass,, "Recruiting Trail: Colerain's Luke Bolden headed to Miami," 4 June 2018 Both of them backed off their verbals, and eventual Indiana pledge Romeo Langford cut Louisville from his list of schools. Chris Johnson,, "Winners and Losers of College Basketball's 2018 Recruiting Cycle," 2 May 2018 Former West Linn and Beaverton standout Nolan Bertain recently made a verbal committed to sign a men's basketball letter of intent at Alabama-Birmingham. Nick Daschel,, "West Linn grad Nolan Bertain verbally commits to Alabama-Birmingham men's basketball," 24 Apr. 2018 Early in the morning, the Ducks signed four-star verbal commits Jalen Hall and Isaah Crocker. Andrew Nemec,, "Devon Williams, nation's No. 16 prospect, commits to USC Trojans over Oregon Ducks on ESPN," 7 Feb. 2018 Another former Tennessee verbal who may be up for a reunion with the Volunteers before signing his NLI is Knoxville Catholic High product Cade Mays, the No. Chris Johnson,, "How the Coaching Carousel's Key Moves Might Affect Recruiting's Early Signing Period," 12 Dec. 2017 Minnesota did not land a commit in August, but after securing 23 verbals already, the Gophers are likely in no rush to simply add bodies to their 2018 class. Ryan Connors, ajc, "Minnesota recruiting: Latest updates on Gophers’ 2018 class," 8 Sep. 2017 The six San Diego-area players with verbals this year is one more than the number included in both SDSU’s 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes. Kirk Kenney,, "Carlsbad's Cameron Thomas latest addition in Aztecs' 2018 recruiting class loaded with locals," 30 June 2017

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.

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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

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Statistics for verbal

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for verbal

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

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More Definitions for verbal



English Language Learners Definition of verbal

: relating to or consisting of words

: spoken rather than written

: relating to or formed from a verb


ver·​bal | \ˈvər-bəl \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on verbal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with verbal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for verbal

Spanish Central: Translation of verbal

Nglish: Translation of verbal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of verbal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on verbal

What made you want to look up verbal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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