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

For starters, those most vocal in their criticism of the final season probably aren't entirely representative of the wider audience base. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Game of Thrones' looks poised to torch more Emmy records," 17 Sep. 2019 Sané has been a vocal and physical leader for the defense, balancing out the burly aggression of Robin Jansson with finesse and speed. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 3-3 draw with the New England Revolution," 17 Sep. 2019 Close vocal harmonies are one of the things that power River Whyless, an Americana-leaning indie-rock band primarily from Asheville, North Carolina. John Adamian, courant.com, "Our picks for seven of this week’s can’t-miss concerts in Connecticut," 16 Sep. 2019 One of the most vocal states among the opposition is New York. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "After Sacklers shift at least $1 billion around, Purdue files for bankruptcy," 16 Sep. 2019 San Diego Early Music Society: The Bach Dynasty San Diego Early Music Society’s baroque-star-studded season begins with Vox Luminis, the Belgian vocal ensemble praised internationally for its harmonious sound. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fall arts 2019 | Classical music: Rafael Payare, Danish String Quartet, ‘Aida’ and more," 15 Sep. 2019 Charbonnet would grind through team workouts, often serving as a vocal leader in the weight room by encouraging others. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's Zach Charbonnet was groomed to be a freshman star. Here's how," 14 Sep. 2019 Quire Cleveland: Conductor Jay White leads Cleveland’s premiere early-music vocal ensemble in three programs on the group’s 12th season. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, "Don’t be bored! Cleveland teems with vocal, chamber, and orchestral music in 2019-20," 13 Sep. 2019 In fact, his vocal delivery was so strong, Nakia had an extensive run on the 2011 debut season for The Voice. Alison Medley, Houston Chronicle, "Texas rising stars, Nakia and the Blues Grifters bring soulful sound to Houston's Market Square," 13 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For the new rendition, Starr, 79, sings and plays the drums with McCartney, 77, on bass and backing vocals. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Ringo Starr Teams with Paul McCartney to Record John Lennon's 'Grow Old with Me' for New Album," 16 Sep. 2019 Her vocals are low and performed in the ‘50s and ‘60s crooner style on several songs, giving them a torch song vibe that is rarely heard in pop today but would be familiar to fans of Julie London, Peggy Lee, or Shirley Horn. Courtney E. Smith, refinery29.com, "Taylor Swift Knows Lover Is All You Need," 24 Aug. 2019 His first album featured Pavement's Stephen Malkmus on guitar and backing vocals. Randall Roberts, chicagotribune.com, "David Berman, acclaimed indie-rock singer-songwriter of Silver Jews, dies at 52," 8 Aug. 2019 Mr Rubin is known for preferring a stripped-back sound, without fussy string arrangements, distracting horns or backing vocals. G.m., The Economist, "In the studio with Rick Rubin," 26 July 2019 The album includes guest vocals by Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan and Guatemalan singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno. Richard Chang, latimes.com, "Mandolinist and radio host Chris Thile to perform at Musco Center," 14 June 2018 As teenage Natalie, Deanna Quintero puts a childish edge on her vocals, and the plaintive looks on her face show the girl inside the woman. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "CFCArts opens season with moving, well-cast ‘Next to Normal’ | Review," 16 Sep. 2019 Pure Prairie League, whose members once included the great Vince Gill on guitar and vocals, is still going strong. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland.com, "Ohio-born Pure Prairie League comes home for a sold-out date with Poco at the Kent Stage," 2 Sep. 2019 Her vocals were on point, and many of Swift's friends, including Camila Cabello and Gigi Hadid, were seen getting their full lives in the audience. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Gigi Hadid and Camila Cabello Were Living for Taylor Swift's 2019 MTV VMAs Performance," 27 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for vocal

Last Updated

21 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vocal

The first known use of vocal was in the 15th 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 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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