American English

Definition of oral adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[usually before noun] spoken rather than written a test of both oral and written French oral evidence stories passed on by oral tradition compare verbal Thesaurusspokenoral vocalThese words all describe producing language using the voice, rather than writing.spoken (of language) produced using the voice; said rather than written:He's better at spoken English than written.oral [usually before noun] spoken rather than written:There will be a test of both oral and written French.spoken or oral?Both of these words can be used to refer to language skills and the communication of information:spoken/oral French a spoken/oral presentation. In these cases, oral is slightly more technical than spoken. Oral, but not spoken, can also be used with words such as tradition, culture, and legends to talk about the way in which people pass stories down from one generation to the next, and in legal contexts followed by words such as evidence and hearing.vocal [usually before noun] connected with the voice:vocal music the vocal organs (= the tongue, lips, etc.) Vocal is used to talk about the ability to produce sounds using the voice, and is often used in musical contexts when referring to singing.Patterns spoken/oral French/English/Japanese, etc. spoken/oral language skills
  2. 2[only before noun] connected with the mouth oral hygiene an oral contraceptive (= that is swallowed like medicine)
  3. 3(phonetics) (of a speech sound) produced without the air in the nose vibrating compare nasal
    adverb Answers can be written or presented orally on tape. not to be taken orally (= a warning on some medicines to show that they must not be swallowed)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: oral