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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for verbal

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The policy also emphasizes that an officer must give a verbal warning before shooting at a suspect. Kalia Richardson,, 29 May 2021 They were given a verbal warning and information on the nearest homeless shelter. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 31 Mar. 2021 Following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator, any person not wearing a face covering will be denied entry to city facilities. Tyler Carter, Dallas News, 10 Mar. 2021 Roberts insisted that the officer failed to issue a verbal warning to Babbitt before she was shot. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, 9 Mar. 2021 In June, Casey Liening, a spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, said officers gave a verbal warning at some point during the night, but Liening could not specify when. Brooke Baitinger,, 25 Feb. 2021 Tidwell said the city typically leads with a verbal warning before issuing further sanctions. Jessica Williams | Staff Writer,, 26 Jan. 2021 The suit, filed in a Tarrant County court against the city of Fort Worth, alleges that officers gave no verbal warning and did not knock before forcing their way into the home. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 9 Dec. 2020 The two 69-year-olds, who are Black, were not given verbal warning before police busted through their front door, the lawsuit claims. Amir Vera And Kay Jones, CNN, 8 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for verbal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for verbal

Last Updated

13 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Verbal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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 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


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