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Verbal Bullying Definition

What Is Verbal Bullying


Updated October 25, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: Verbal bullying occurs when someone uses language to gain power over his or her peers. The verbal bully makes use of relentless insults and teasing to bully his or her peers. For instance, a verbal bully may make fun of a peer's lack of physical capabilities, may tease a peer for being a "dumbie" or "nerd", and/or may call a peer names based on appearance.

Verbal bullies are one of the more difficult types of bullies to identify since their attacks tend to only occur when adults are not present. Even though verbal bullying creates no physical damage, this type of abuse can have lasting psychological impacts on victims.

Related terms: Physical Bullying, Relational Bullying, Reactive Bullying


Smokowski, Paul R., and Kopasz, Kelly Holland. Bullying in school: An overview of types, effects, family characteristics, and intervention strategies. 2005. Children & Schools. 27,2: 101-110.

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