viva voce

1 of 3


: by word of mouth : orally

viva voce

2 of 3


: expressed or conducted by means of speech : orally sense 1

viva voce

3 of 3


: an examination conducted viva voce

called also viva

Did you know?

Viva voce derives from Medieval Latin, where it translates literally as "with the living voice." In English it occurs in contexts, such as voting, in which something is done aloud for all to hear. Votes in Congress, for example, are done viva voce—members announce their votes by calling out "yea" or "nay." While the phrase was first used in English as an adverb in the 16th century, it can also appear as an adjective (as in "a viva voce examination") or a noun (where it refers to an examination conducted orally).

Examples of viva voce in a Sentence

Adjective the students are required to write two papers and take a viva voce examination

Word History



Medieval Latin, with the living voice

First Known Use


1563, in the meaning defined above


1654, in the meaning defined above


1842, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of viva voce was in 1563


Dictionary Entries Near viva voce

Cite this Entry

“Viva voce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition

viva voce

adverb or adjective
vi·​va vo·​ce
ˌvī-və-ˈvō-sē, ˌvē-və-ˈvō-ˌchā
: through speech : by word of mouth
testify viva voce

Adverb or adjective

Medieval Latin, literally, by living voice

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