what is the difference between verbal and oral ?

I am looking forward to the answer and I appreciate your effort

closed as off-topic by Janus Bahs Jacquet, Edwin Ashworth, Kristina Lopez, Canis Lupus, Centaurus Jul 1 '15 at 22:55

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  • 1
    What have you found in your dictionary researches so far, and what problems do you have with your results? – Margana Jul 1 '15 at 21:16
  • possible duplicate of Orally or Verbally – Edwin Ashworth Jul 1 '15 at 22:07
  • @HotLicks - brilliant comment and I love how your username is so apt for it! – Charon Jul 2 '15 at 0:27

Oral and Verbal: ( grammar.about.com)

  • The adjective oral means pertaining to speech or to the mouth.

  • The adjective verbal means pertaining to words, whether written or spoken (though verbal is sometimes treated as a synonym for oral).

Usage notes:

  • Oral communication is speech, conversation. Verbal ability is one's skill with words, and the verbal section of the SAT, the college entrance examination, tests a high school student's knowledge of written language.

  • "Verbal and oral are now so inextricably confounded that the tautological phrase verbal and written has become entrenched: 'The position requires . . . strong verbal and written communication skills' (RenewableEnergyWorld.com) . . ..

  • "This may seem like a morass, but don't despair. Avoiding this accident of style is easier than you may think. Just remember that oral refers to spoken words, written refers to written words, and verbal refers to anything expressed in words, whether spoken or written."

The Grammatist makes the following points on usage, ( and sex has something to do with it):

Verbal vs oral:

  • Here’s the traditional distinction: Verbal applies to things that are put into words, whether written or spoken, while oral pertains to the mouth, to medications taken by mouth, and to things that are spoken.

  • English authorities have traditionally urged against using verbal in reference to spoken things—for example, verbal/oral communications, verbal/oral reports, and verbal/oral warnings—but verbal is increasingly used in these phrases, perhaps in part due to oral‘s prurient associations. *But oral is still a good word, so one does not have to follow the trend toward favoring verbal. Still, using verbal in the newer way is not wrong, as it is sanctioned by common, widespread usage and is by no means new.


From an etymological standpoint, verbal means 'pertaining to words' and oral means 'pertaining to the mouth'.

The two can have different meanings in some cases (e.g. the other connotations of oral) but overlap in their common usage to mean spoken word. In this meaning, the two are synonymous and used interchangeably, as reflected by Oxford's definition of verbal:

Verbal- Spoken rather than written; oral

That said, I feel that oral is the better to use when referring to strictly spoken word, e.g. oral exam, oral presentation.

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