rhetoric

noun
rhet·​o·​ric | \ ˈre-tə-rik \

Definition of rhetoric

1 : the art of speaking or writing effectively: such as
a : the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times
b : the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion
2a : skill in the effective use of speech
b : a type or mode of language or speech also : insincere or grandiloquent language
3 : verbal communication : discourse

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

However, there remains a sense among some that Tamika Mallory and others haven’t sufficiently denounced Farrakhan’s rhetoric. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Should You Attend the Women's March?," 16 Jan. 2019 Donald Trump’s hostile rhetoric toward Mexico has a number of tequila producers trying to find a non-US market for their products, Newman says. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "Elon Musk’s Teslaquila is actually a good idea," 19 Oct. 2018 In spite of Trump’s rhetoric, the U.S. still signed the NATO summit’s 79-point declaration, which reaffirmed the American commitment to defend all its allies and condemned Russia for a long list of crimes and transgressions. Simon Shuster/tallinn, Time, "Trump Shakes Up NATO, but Eastern European Allies Aren't Stirred," 13 July 2018 Nonetheless, Republicans appear to have moved sharply in line with Trump’s rhetoric. Emily Guskin, Washington Post, "Trump is battling Mueller investigation to a draw in court of public opinion," 12 July 2018 Heitkamp, a top GOP target this year, has been on both sides of Trump’s rhetoric, with the president praising her at times and bashing her at times. USA TODAY, "'Pivot counties' will be key in fight for Senate control," 10 July 2018 In less than a day, Tay’s rhetoric went from family-friendly to foulmouthed; fewer than 24 hours after her debut, Microsoft took her offline and apologized for the public debacle. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Unmasking A.I.'s Bias Problem," 25 June 2018 The party quickly shifted to the left on immigration as Donald Trump launched a campaign centered on vicious anti-immigrant rhetoric and promises to remove all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "‘Abolish ICE’: The Roots of the Left’s New Immigration Rallying Cry," 26 June 2018 Will Trump change his attitude, rhetoric or policies toward his southern neighbor now that Mexico will have a new president? Time, "Mexico's New President AMLO and Donald Trump Have Promised Mutual 'Respect.' How Long Can That Last?," 3 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of rhetoric

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Statistics for rhetoric

Last Updated

18 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for rhetoric

The first known use of rhetoric was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for rhetoric

rhetoric

noun

English Language Learners Definition of rhetoric

formal
often disapproving : 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

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