rhetoric

noun

rhet·​o·​ric ˈre-tə-rik How to pronounce rhetoric (audio)
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
2
a
: 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

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 on the Web But adding to the drumbeat of anti-Biden rhetoric could backfire, party operatives say, turning supporters off just when Democrats need the reverse. Tommy Barone, ABC News, 12 July 2024 The sharp rhetoric is triggering alarm among Kansas City immigration advocates, sparking fear about what’s ahead if voters elect the most strident GOP voices on immigration. Jonathan Shorman, Kansas City Star, 11 July 2024 Defense experts told Newsweek that the sentiment behind Trump's rhetoric, though perhaps undiplomatic, can be viewed as a continuation of previous administrations' stances. David Faris, Newsweek, 9 July 2024 The rhetoric coming from both sides does not suggest much space for compromise. Simon Shuster, TIME, 8 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for rhetoric 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rhetoric.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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 century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near rhetoric

Cite this Entry

“Rhetoric.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhetoric. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

rhetoric

noun
rhet·​o·​ric ˈret-ə-rik How to pronounce rhetoric (audio)
1
: the art of speaking or writing effectively
2
: the study or use of the principles and rules of composition
3
a
: skill in the effective use of speech
b
: language that is not honest, sincere, or meaningful
rhetorician
ˌret-ə-ˈrish-ən
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on rhetoric

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!