vo·​cal | \ ˈvō-kəl How to pronounce vocal (audio) \

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
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



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 How to pronounce vocality (audio) \ noun
vocally \ ˈvō-​kə-​lē How to pronounce vocally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for vocal

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of vocal in a Sentence

Adjective music with vocal and instrumental parts She is a vocal critic of the new law. He was very vocal in his criticism of me. Noun a recording artist who arranges his own vocals
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Legislative proposals have been strongly fought by the industries affected, and the medical device industry has been among the most vocal. Susan Decker, Bloomberg.com, "Broken Ventilators Spark Push to End Limits on Who Can Fix Them," 15 May 2020 Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida who was one of the most vocal critics of the China investment, had threatened bipartisan legislation to block the move. Ana Swanson, New York Times, "Federal Retirement Fund Halts Planned China Investment Under Pressure," 13 May 2020 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director and the administration’s most vocal hard-liner on China, has taken the lead in pushing US intelligence agencies for more information, according to current and former officials. Mark Mazzetti, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump officials are said to press spies to link Virus and Wuhan labs," 30 Apr. 2020 Dental hygienists have been among the most vocal workers with concerns about going back to work. oregonlive, "Apprehension, excitement greet Oregon’s reopening of dental, medical and even Botox clinics," 29 Apr. 2020 Among the most vocal governors pushing back on that narrative has been Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "'He didn't understand.' Trump slams Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, outspoken critic on testing," 22 Apr. 2020 While many Republicans have emphasized the Chinese origins of a virus that has killed more than 40,000 Americans, Cotton has been among the most vocal urging an investigation into the lab’s role. Fortune, "Wuhan lab denies link to virus outbreak after Trump fans speculation that China may be ‘knowingly responsible’," 20 Apr. 2020 Listen to the dominant, most vocal girl and mock her. Michael Hanback, Outdoor Life, "25 Top Spring Turkey Hunting Tips," 20 Apr. 2020 But perhaps her most vocal campaign has been as a self-fashioned leader of the #MeToo movement. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, "Alyssa Milano Discovers Due Process," 7 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 1957, with their parents' blessing, the remaining brothers decided to regroup and move to New York, with brother Ronnie assuming lead vocals. Luann Gibbs, Cincinnati.com, "Top 20 most successful musicians from Cincinnati: 10-1," 9 Apr. 2020 During the chorus, a whole band pipes up: piano, backing vocals, more guitar, handclaps. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "John Prine’s Perfect Songs," 8 Apr. 2020 The list of people performing on the song is astonishing, from the instrumentation of The Wrecking Crew to backing vocals from The Blossoms, Sonny and Cher, Bobby Sheen and others. cleveland, "100 greatest songs of the 1960s by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers," 4 Mar. 2020 The music of Mazzy Star, which Mr. Roback formed with singer Hope Sandoval in the late 1980s, combined his understated guitar playing with Sandoval’s haunting, enigmatic vocals. Daniel E. Slotnik, BostonGlobe.com, "David Roback, a founder of the band Mazzy Star," 27 Feb. 2020 But neighbors have occasionally complained about the vocals coming from Daniela Mack and Alek Shrader’s residences. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "The romantic leads in MN Opera’s ‘Barber of Seville’ are romantic offstage, too," 7 Nov. 2019 Onstage Sunday, the 15-member panel included Franklin family such as Sabrina Owens, the niece handling the singer's estate; Brenda Corbett, the cousin who sang backing vocals; and Earline Franklin, widow of the star's brother Cecil. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Book of rare, personal Aretha Franklin photos brings family, dignitaries to event," 28 Oct. 2019 For the new rendition, Starr sings and plays the drums with McCartney on bass and backing vocals. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney Reunite at Abbey Road to Honor 50th Anniversary of Beatles' Album," 27 Sep. 2019 In most Braids songs, the band’s busily layered math-rock patterns seize the foreground alongside vocals and lyrics. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Beyoncé Amps Up ‘Savage,’ and 12 More New Songs," 2 May 2020

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1570, 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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Time Traveler for vocal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for vocal

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vocal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vocal. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for vocal


How to pronounce vocal (audio)

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 How to pronounce vocal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce vocal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce vocality (audio) \ noun, plural vocalities
vocally \ ˈvō-​kə-​lē How to pronounce vocally (audio) \ 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

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