Definition of verbal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvəːb(ə)l/


1Relating to or in the form of words: the root of the problem is visual rather than verbal verbal abuse
More example sentences
  • He gave Rafe a parting thump along with a touch more verbal abuse and left us alone.
  • I didn't feel up for more verbal abuse, but I still wondered where he was taking me.
  • After protracted verbal sparring followed by hand-to-hand combat, Harry defeats Riddle by stabbing the diary.
1.1Spoken rather than written; oral: a verbal agreement
More example sentences
  • Healthcare providers may need to write ‘exercise prescriptions’ rather than give verbal advice to frail older adults.
  • This can be accomplished by employing consistent verbal descriptors in both oral speech and written materials.
  • They have extraordinary verbal skills and written skills.
oral, spoken, said, uttered, articulated, expressed, stated, verbalized, vocal, unwritten, by mouth, word-of-mouth;
Latin viva voce
1.2Tending to talk a lot: he’s very verbal
More example sentences
  • Second, Crow suggests that evolutionary processes were greatly accelerated by female selection of highly verbal males.
2 Grammar Relating to or derived from a verb: a verbal adjective
More example sentences
  • It is unlikely that such a verb as organize will shift, because of its verbal suffix: no Let's have an organize.
  • The past forms of nominal sentences are verbal sentences because of the verb of existence which expresses the past tense.
  • Nominal, adjectival, and verbal expressions can, however, be ‘coerced’ into serving a non-prototypical function.


1 Grammar A word or words functioning as a verb.
1.1A verbal noun.
2 [mass noun] (also verbals) British informal Abuse; insults: just a bit of air-wave verbals
More example sentences
  • But the fact that it's not just verbals now is what worries me.
  • With countless hackles raised, justifiably, on a daily basis with regard to the current fiasco, it's time for the verbals to cease.
  • Yet abandoning the argument over a few lousy verbals was untenable.
abuse, stream/torrent of abuse, teasing, hectoring, jeering, barracking, cursing, scolding, upbraiding, rebuke, reproval, castigation, revilement, vilification, vituperation, defamation, slander, flak;
insults, curses, aspersions
informal mud-slinging, bad-mouthing, tongue-lashing, a lashing, a roasting, a caning
British informal stick, slagging off, slagging, slating, a rollicking, a wigging, a rocket
British vulgar slang a bollocking
3 (verbals) informal The lyrics of a song or the dialogue of a film: it is the responsibility of the directors to do better with the verbals
More example sentences
  • To most purists, putting a new beat behind Grandmaster Flash's verbals is tantamount to redrawing Manet's Olympia on MS Paint.
  • That, though, was merely the prelude to Lennon's verbals.
  • It is, in its own small way, a tour de force: his oddball verbals and musical eclecticism do combine in a coherent manner.
4 (usually verbals) British informal A verbal statement containing a damaging admission alleged to have been made to the police, and offered as evidence by the prosecution.
Example sentences
  • But the mischief that McKinney, after two decades of cases, the mischief was exactly the problem of verbals.

verb (verbals, verballing, verballed)

[with object] British informal
Attribute a damaging statement to (a suspect), especially dishonestly.
Example sentences
  • Him verballing other people at a meeting on the other side of the world apparently putting things in the newspaper, for me has zero credibility.
  • And when I went forward, I was verballed by Internal Affairs.
  • Mr Turnbull may have been caught out, playing to the crowd on Monday night, or he may have been verballed.


It is sometimes said that the true sense of the adjective verbal is ‘of or concerned with words’, whether spoken or written (as in verbal abuse), and that it should not be used to mean ‘spoken rather than written’ (as in a verbal agreement). For this sense, it is said that the adjective oral should be used instead. In practice, however, verbal is well established in this sense and, in certain idiomatic phrases (such as a verbal agreement), cannot be simply replaced by oral.


Late 15th century (describing a person who deals with words rather than things): from French, or from late Latin verbalis, from verbum 'word' (see verb).

Words that rhyme with verbal

burble, herbal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ver¦bal

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