oral, verbal

“Verbal” (from Latin verbum, meaning “word”) refers to all words, whether spoken or written.

  • Verbal communication includes both speech and writing.
  • Non-verbal forms of communication use no words; they include sign language and body language.

Therefore, careful writers use “oral” to refer specifically to spoken words.

  • Inez hoped there would be an oral exam: she disliked writing under pressure.

More and more, however, we see “verbal” used instead of “oral,” especially in the case of verbal contracts and verbal evidence.

  • These are the police officer’s notes, based on the witness’s verbal (or oral) statement.
  • Now that we have verbal agreement, would you please draw up a contract.
  • Do you rely on verbal or visual cues to assess a person’s truthfulness?

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