rhetorical question

noun

: a question not intended to require an answer

Did you know?

Rhetorical Language vs. Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical has several meanings which are close enough in meaning that they may easily cause confusion. It can refer to the subject of rhetoric ("the art of speaking or writing effectively") in a broad sense, and may also refer to that same subject in a somewhat deprecatory sense ("given to insincere or grandiloquent language"). But perhaps the most common use of rhetorical today is found in conjunction with question. A rhetorical question is not a question about the art of speaking effectively; it is a question that is asked for effect, rather than from a desire to know the answer. “Would it kill you to stop chewing your food with your mouth open?” is a rhetorical question.

Examples of rhetorical question in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The rhetorical question appeared to be an accusation of American hypocrisy, rather than a suggestion that Beijing was readying to supply weapons to Moscow. Ellen Francis, Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2023 This woman was front and center and really wanted to get in on this rhetorical question. Mikey O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Feb. 2024 Lance Armstrong on 'Stars on Mars' | Credit: Fox That's when Tinashe steps in to answer his rhetorical question. Jillian Sederholm, EW.com, 9 July 2023 Since many of you reading this live in Los Angeles, that’s something of a rhetorical question. Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2023 Macron, who had scrapped Harvey Weinstein’s Legion of Honor following the rape accusations in 2017, reacted to Malak’s comments with a rhetorical question. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 21 Dec. 2023 No Label co-founder and former Sen. Joe Lieberman soon shot back with a rhetorical question. ABC News, 2 Nov. 2023 That speech pattern — the sarcastic rhetorical question asked in a tone of mock disbelief — was typical of Chandler. Matt Stevens, New York Times, 30 Oct. 2023 Our thoughts on the deplorable decision ... -- With the full sweep of the Edwards era now available for judgment, we’re left with a rhetorical question: Why in the world did Arizona State hire him in the first place, then implement the disastrous ‘New Leadership Model’? Jon Wilner | Bay Area News Group, oregonlive, 28 Aug. 2023

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

Dictionary Entries Near rhetorical question

Cite this Entry

“Rhetorical question.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhetorical%20question. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

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!