What Does By Word of Mouth Mean?

By Word of Mouth Meaning

Definition: Spreading information through verbal communication.

When something is done by word of mouth, it is communicated informally by people speaking with one another rather than writing or typing.

Many things spread by word of mouth. For example, stories can be spread by word of mouth, and marketing can be done by word of mouth.

This phrase can also be used as a hyphenated adjective to modify a noun, as in the phrase word-of-mouth marketing.

Origin of By Word of Mouth

word of mouth definitionWord of mouth has been in use since the mid-1500s. The hyphenated adjective version has been in use since the 1800s.

However, oral storytelling has been around for thousands of years prior to either of these phrases being used. Before the invention of writing, even before the invention of the printing press to make the spread of writing easier, communicating by word of mouth was the main way to communicate.

Now, however, communicating by word of mouth is more of an anomaly because of the advent of writing. Access to books and paper and technology like email and texting have made word-of-mouth­ a more costly way to communicate.

Examples of By Word of Mouth

what does word of mouth meanOne of the main things that people think of when using the phrase word of mouth is a rumor. Many times, one person will inadvertently start a rumor by saying something to another, and then that person will slightly change the story when telling it to yet another person.

The story will continue to change as more people spread it to each other. This will evolve into a rumor that is spread by word of mouth.

Businesses and advertising agencies often want their customers to use word of mouth communication to talk about them. They will design advertisements to encourage customers to spread their information via word of mouth.

More Examples

  • As the popularity of his work has grown — mostly through word-of-mouth from customers and online galleries of his creations — Williams said he’s felt motivated… –Chicago Tribune


The phrase word of mouth information is spread through people talking to each other.