rhetoric

noun
rhet·​o·​ric | \ ˈre-tə-rik How to pronounce rhetoric (audio) \

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

The moves came as city officials and law enforcement prepared for potentially violent clashes Aug. 17 during a right-wing rally and counterprotests planned in downtown Portland that had become inflamed with incendiary political rhetoric nationwide. oregonlive, "An ex-Marine said he’d ‘slaughter’ antifa. The FBI, using Oregon’s new red flag law, took his guns away," 30 Aug. 2019 As conservative parties become increasingly tied to nationalism, and misogynist rhetoric dominates the far-right, Hultman and his fellow researchers at Chalmers University worry that the ties between climate skeptics and misogyny will strengthen. Martin Gelin, The New Republic, "The Misogyny of Climate Deniers," 28 Aug. 2019 Investor insight: Gentler rhetoric could also give stocks a boost. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "How the Fed is helping Trump fight his trade war," 26 Aug. 2019 The film includes mention of the Philippines' notoriously hardline President Duterte hailing OFWs as heroes and heroines, but scores by going deep into the personal circumstances that underpin such soundbite rhetoric. Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Overseas': Film Review | Locarno 2019," 22 Aug. 2019 The party has set out five reasonable conditions for collaboration, such as the M5S renouncing anti-EU rhetoric. The Economist, "Now is not the time for an election in Italy," 22 Aug. 2019 Bloom attacked both Mead and Benedict, and the notion that teachers who preach cultural relativism are turning American students into unpatriotic nihilists has been a recurrent theme in political rhetoric ever since. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, "How Cultural Anthropologists Redefined Humanity," 19 Aug. 2019 We have been smeared by political rhetoric and murdered in violent hate crimes. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Latino actors, writers pen ‘letter of solidarity’ amid fears," 16 Aug. 2019 Emboldened by xenophobic rhetoric and aided by tech platforms, government agencies like ICE are targeting the Latinx and undocumented communities, inflicting generational trauma onto vulnerable families and children. Shirin Ghaffary, Vox, "After the El Paso and Gilroy shootings, tech leaders are saying platforms must stop amplifying hate speech," 13 Aug. 2019

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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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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Comments on rhetoric

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