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

In today’s tumultuous climate — in which our public spaces are saturated with divisive rhetoric and an ominous increase in hate crimes, and in which even our houses of worship are made to feel unsafe — women’s mosques forge a new path. Asma Uddin, Teen Vogue, "On Muslim Women's Day, Women-Only Mosques Are About Much More Than Prayer," 27 Mar. 2019 The rancorous rhetoric and the specter of military involvement have escalated tensions across this vast nation of 190 million people, which emerged from a series of military governments in 1999 and has repeatedly suffered postelection violence. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigeria to Vote After Delay Brings New Conflict," 21 Feb. 2019 What’s more, the fashion industry’s current rhetoric on sustainability might actually impede systemic overhaul more anything else. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Climate Change Protests Disrupt London Fashion Week," 18 Feb. 2019 But sadly, his policy and rhetoric are no laughing matter. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump's UN General Assembly Speech Earned a Laugh From World Leaders," 26 Sep. 2018 And the notion that whiteness is a precondition for full citizenship was affirmed in official rhetoric and policy for most of America’s history — as was the idea that preserving a white majority was a legitimate national interest. Eric Leivtz, Daily Intelligencer, "For Democrats, Immigration Is a Political Problem Without a Policy Solution," 2 July 2018 That drop has been partly blamed on Trump’s tightening of immigration policy and his harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Why American Businesses Should Be 'Terrified' After President Trump's Comments on Trade," 9 June 2018 At the same time, the Republicans running to replace him as governor, Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis, are trying to out-Donald Trump each other in their anti-immigration rhetoric, an issue key to many Hispanics. Gray Rohrer, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Rick Scott seeks Hispanic votes as Trump blasts immigration," 29 May 2018 But fear and dehumanization are the defining rhetoric of this administration. Brian Resnick, Vox, "8 lessons from psychology that explain Trump’s caravan fearmongering," 2 Nov. 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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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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