Word of the Day : February 27, 2012

viva voce

adverb vye-vuh-VOH-see


: by word of mouth : orally

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).


According to the town's bylaws, members of the town council must vote viva voce or by a show of hands.

"He was examined according to standard inquisitorial procedures derived from Roman law and medieval practice. Interrogators put questions to the accused who answered viva voce, in writing, or both, as demanded." -- From Donald Weinstein's 2011 book Savonarola: the Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Prophet

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "vade mecum," our Word of the Day from February 12? The answer is ...


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