vo·cal | \ ˈvō-kəl \

Definition of vocal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : uttered by the voice : oral

b : produced in the larynx : uttered with voice

2a : given to expressing oneself freely or insistently : outspoken a highly vocal critic

b : having or exercising the power of producing voice, speech, or sound

c : expressive

d : full of voices : resounding

e : expressed in words

3 : relating to, composed or arranged for, or sung by the human voice vocal music

4 : of, relating to, or resembling the voice vocal impairment

5 : vocalic



Definition of vocal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a vocal sound

2 : a usually accompanied musical composition for the human voice : song also : a performance of such a composition

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from vocal


vocality \vō-ˈka-lə-tē \ noun
vocally \ˈvō-kə-lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for vocal

Synonyms: Adjective

oral, spoken, uttered, voiced

Synonyms: Noun

ballad, ditty, jingle, lay, lyric, song

Antonyms: Adjective


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of vocal in a Sentence


music with vocal and instrumental parts She is a vocal critic of the new law. He was very vocal in his criticism of me.


a recording artist who arranges his own vocals
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Some top Republicans in that chamber have grown increasingly vocal in their criticism of Trump’s trade war. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Senate rebuke of Trump tariffs won't actually change anything," 12 July 2018 Trump, who has been vocal in his supporter of Brexit, is slated to meet with May on Friday. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Trump says Putin summit could be 'easiest' stop of European tour, amid NATO tensions," 10 July 2018 Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been vocal in his support of current goalkeeper Loris Karius over the past week, with the German still the subject of criticism and ridicule following his disastrous performance in the Champions League final. SI.com, "Barcelona Goalkeeper Prepared to Submit Transfer Request Amid Rumours of Liverpool Interest," 9 July 2018 Privacy - Terms Though Democrats haven't been vocal in opposing the Nevada bid, Democrats and independents haven't been fully supportive either. Steve Harrison, charlotteobserver, "As Charlotte debates hosting GOP, Las Vegas still hoping for upset win," 9 July 2018 Housing activists in the Bay Area have grown more vocal in calling for more available housing in the region. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "San Francisco's Home Prices Soared an Average of $205,000 in the Past 6 Months," 6 July 2018 If anything, the former president been blamed lately for not being vocal enough in using his moral authority to shame Team Trump. David Zurawik, baltimoresun.com, "Hannity outrageously points finger at Waters, Obama for rhetoric that fed Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting," 29 June 2018 Several universities and higher-education groups have been vocal in opposing the travel ban in all its versions, arguing that the policy would create an unwelcoming environment for international scholars. Sara Reardon, Scientific American, "Top U.S. Court Upholds Trump Travel Ban: Student Visas Already in Decline," 26 June 2018 Organizations of parents who say that their babies were taken from them have grown increasingly vocal in Spain in the past decade as more allegations have come to light. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Spain’s ‘Stolen Babies’ Trial Explores a Franco Legacy," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Features many soloists from within orchestra and vocals from international sensation countertenor Iestyn Davies. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do this week in Cincinnati: May 1-6," 30 Apr. 2018 Welch's vocals were ethereal and soared throughout the track, pairing well with the harp featured on the live performance. Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "Florence + The Machine Give Spectacular Performance At SiriusXM: Watch," 11 July 2018 Their shows include multi-harmonized vocals, instrumentals, country fiddling a capella hymns, pop jazz, standard and country music. Courant Community, "Community News For The Vernon Edition," 19 June 2018 Unlike the unabating belt of Gabby Barrett or deep croon of rival Caleb Lee Hutchinson — remaining finalists who have drawn comparisons to past Idol winners Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery — Poppe's vocals are indelible and singular. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "Maddie Poppe deserves to be your next 'American Idol,' but can she win?," 21 May 2018 The vocals, which Benjamin performs, are an ode to his late mother and father, who died in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "It's no 'Player's Ball,' but Andre 3000 is back with new Mother's Day music," 13 May 2018 If predictable repetition, discernible vocals and body-calming tempos are crucial to your enjoyment of music, Born Of Osiris won’t be your idea of a good time. John Adamian, courant.com, "Born Of Osiris Playing Webster Theater," 5 May 2018 Even the vocals are part of the intricate, incessant polyrhythms that make the group’s assault so unforgettable. Kevin Williams, chicagotribune.com, "Flaming Lips part of a tasty, noisy early Taste of Chicago peek," 1 May 2018 More than ever, Dupuis’s vocals and lyrics are the focal point. Terence Cawley, BostonGlobe.com, "Speedy Ortiz headier, poppier than ever on ‘Twerp Verse’," 25 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vocal.' 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 vocal


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vocal


Middle English, from Latin vocalis, from voc-, vox voice — more at voice

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vocal

Statistics for vocal

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vocal

The first known use of vocal was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vocal



English Language Learners Definition of vocal

: of, relating to, or produced by the voice

: expressing opinions in a public and forceful way


vo·cal | \ ˈvō-kəl \

Kids Definition of vocal

1 : uttered by the voice : oral vocal communication

2 : composed or arranged for or sung by the human voice the vocal parts of a song

3 : speaking freely or loudly : outspoken a vocal critic

4 : relating to or involved in producing the voice the vocal organs

Other words from vocal

vocally adverb


vo·cal | \ ˈvō-kəl \

Medical Definition of vocal 

1 : uttered by the voice : oral

2 : having or exercising the power of producing voice, speech, or sound

3 : of, relating to, or resembling the voice vocal dysfunction due to throat infection

Other words from vocal

vocality \vō-ˈkal-ət-ē \ noun plural -ties
vocally \ˈvō-kə-lē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on vocal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vocal

Spanish Central: Translation of vocal

Nglish: Translation of vocal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vocal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vocal

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


by word of mouth

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!