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

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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


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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a vocal Brexiteer, is leading the charge, joined by a growing number of hardline Tories who’ve said May has broken her promises on Brexit and so is unfit to lead. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The latest Brexit drama, explained," 15 Nov. 2018 Zhang, who graduated from Peking University’s pharmaceutical school this year, was a vocal member of the Jasic Workers Support Group. Yanan Wang, The Seattle Times, "Missing elite Chinese university alumni spark outcry," 14 Nov. 2018 Still, her musicianship and vocal prowess are on full display throughout. Nick Williams, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Star Is Born," 30 Oct. 2018 Over the last few days, several prominent figures have received pipe bombs from an unknown terrorist, apparently with a political motivation—all the targets are vocal critics of President Trump. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Technology of Pipe Bombs and Suspicious Packages, Explained," 25 Oct. 2018 Scott’s current posture is a dramatic shift for the vocal critic of former President Barack Obama who enthusiastically backed Trump during the presidential election. Washington Post, "In Senate race, Florida governor in balancing act with Trump," 13 July 2018 This operatic interpretation placed vocal beauty above all else, stripping the musical of its theatrical spirit and leaving me cold. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "The Trouble With Bernstein’s Broadway in the Concert Hall," 13 July 2018 There's even a bit of slapback on that vocal as Jim Andreas sings of a sad, sad generator he's convinced will take the pain away on the most contagious rocker of the year so far. Ed Masley, azcentral, "These are the best songs of 2018, so far," 12 July 2018 This band was always a vocal group with guitars aplenty, and that’s what boomed out of the BB&T’s overloaded speakers. John Timpane, Philly.com, "Steely Dan play their first Philly-area show without late member Walter Becker at the BB&T Pavilion," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While Goblin’s work in the original film was relentless and full of creepy, chanted whispers, the 2018 film’s score, by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, is delicate and beautiful, stringing together gentle piano lines and fragile vocals. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Suspiria is an ambitious remix of a horror classic," 26 Oct. 2018 But what many may not realize is that the star's talents don't end there: Juan also has some impressive vocals. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Dancing With the Stars' Juan Pablo Di Pace Has a Talent That No One Ever Talks About," 15 Oct. 2018 Archy Marshall’s swooning vocals flicker in and out like a candle’s flame in this intimate ballad. Nicole Demarco, Harper's BAZAAR, "28 Songs That Probably Aren't on Your Sex Playlist (But Should Be)," 8 Oct. 2018 Their collective had released only a few songs publicly as of this weekend, but fans got to hear an album's worth of Vernon’s signature falsetto and folktronica dilations combined with Dessner’s guitar and vocals. Erin Richards, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Eaux Claires IV review: Day 1 music," 7 July 2018 Those haunting vocals are going to sound amazing in there. Chris Haghirian, kansascity, "Jack White, Katy Guillen and the Girls highlight outdoor concerts this week | The Kansas City Star," 17 Apr. 2018 Her owner, Stephen, who plays in a band, gave Mary-Jane a part on vocals with her special meow. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "The most anticipated concerts in Houston for 2018 (and a little beyond)," 21 June 2018 The Blind Boys of Alabama sang a raucous, exuberant style of gospel that mixed harmony vocals with impassioned call-and-response shouting intended to rouse an audience into a religious fervor. Daniel E. Slotnik, BostonGlobe.com, "Clarence Fountain, 88; led the Blind Boys of Alabama," 8 June 2018 The Blind Boys of Alabama sang a raucous, exuberant style of gospel that mixed harmony vocals with impassioned call-and-response shouting intended to rouse an audience into a religious fervor. Daniel E. Slotnik, New York Times, "Clarence Fountain, 88, Dies; Led the Blind Boys of Alabama," 6 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for vocal

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vocal

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

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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

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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).


noxious or harmful

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