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

Election campaigning was highly polarized, with Erdogan and other officials using hostile rhetoric toward opposition candidates. Zeynep Bilginsoy, The Seattle Times, "Turkey’s ruling party leads local elections but loses Ankara," 31 Mar. 2019 Endorsed by Emily’s List and Moms Demand Action, Craig will now take on Republican Rep. Jason Lewis in a major battleground race that is renewing focus on Lewis’s racist and homophobic rhetoric. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Primary Takeaways: 4 Women Winners to Be Very Excited About," 15 Aug. 2018 Others have included markets that haven’t melted down, business leaders who have done little beyond using rhetoric to criticize the trade spat, and Republican voters who have stood by their president. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Senate rebuke of Trump tariffs won't actually change anything," 12 July 2018 Hate crimes increased across California for the third straight year in 2017, an uptick experts have blamed on President Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric toward minorities and the resurgence of hate groups in the state. James Queally, latimes.com, "Hate crimes rise in California for third straight year, state report says," 10 July 2018 Conservatives accused the senator and other Democrats of using anti-Catholic rhetoric. Dan Hinkel, chicagotribune.com, "Potential Trump Supreme Court pick Barrett: Catholic Chicago judge stirs abortion debate," 5 July 2018 Trump has used tough rhetoric to describe immigrants throughout his campaign and into his tenure in the White House. Jennifer Calfas, Time, "'I'm Not That Person the President of the United States Says I Am.' Man Who Was Subjected to Racist Rant Speaks Out," 26 June 2018 Salvini has often used fiery rhetoric to boost his party's popularity and push a more nationalist agenda. Lauren Said-moorhouse And Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN, "Meet the populist players about to take power in Italy," 1 June 2018 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

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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highly pertinent or appropriate

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