Definition of rhetoric
1 : the art of speaking or writing effectively: such asa : the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient timesb : the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion
Examples of rhetoric in a Sentence
The media almost never discuss what the sweeping dismantling of public services inherent in the rhetoric of the antigovernment movement would mean in practice. —E. J. Dionne, Jr., Commonweal, 20 Nov. 2009
What they are in reality are the romantic words of a man who needs glorious rhetoric to cover up murderous reality. —Pete Hamill, Cosmopolitan, April 1976
No speech could have been more thoroughly honest in its intention: the frigid rhetoric at the end was as sincere as the bark of a dog, or the cawing of an amorous rook. —George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872
Otherwise he might have been a great general, blowing up all sorts of towns, or he might have been a great politician, dealing in all sorts of parliamentary rhetoric; but as it was, he and the Court of Chancery had fallen upon each other in the pleasantest way, and nobody was much the worse … —Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1852-53
a college course in rhetoric
the mayor's promise to fight drugs was just rhetoric, since there was no money in the city budget for a drug program
Recent Examples of rhetoric from the Web
While there's been discourse over the statue, the rhetoric thus far hasn't reached the level of acrimony seen in New Orleans.
Both men were mesmerizing writers, though with different styles — Churchill was a master of rhetoric; Orwell a superb essayist.
After feeling neglected by Obama, the Saudis welcomed a $110 billion arms package and Trump's more bellicose rhetoric toward mutual enemies like Iran and the Islamic State.
To wit: Saudi leaders welcomed Trump warmly, seemingly willing to overlook the president's previous harsh rhetoric about Muslims, in general, and their country, specifically.
But AP Fact Checks have spotted some tall tales in his rhetoric during his first foreign trip since taking office.
In his second career, instead of baseballs, Bunning went after opponents and issues with strong rhetoric and an intense certainty in the correctness of his own views.
Desire to control borders aligns the country more with the U.S.—though the rhetoric and tone are quite different from those of the three other European nations that defend the EU principle of freedom of movement.
But when Board Chair Mary McCray banged the final gavel at 12:40 a.m. Thursday, after four hours of split votes and angry rhetoric from her members, there was no sense of victory.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rhetoric'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of rhetoric
Middle English rethorik, from Anglo-French rethorique, from Latin rhetorica, from Greek rhētorikē, literally, art of oratory, from feminine of rhētorikos of an orator, from rhētōr orator, rhetorician, from eirein to say, speak — more at word
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
RHETORIC Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of rhetoric for English Language Learners
: language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable
: the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up rhetoric? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).