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

None of this features in Trump’s political rhetoric, of course. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump blames Mexico for a problem with no borders," 7 June 2019 And Buttigieg has hardened his rhetoric toward Pence, using President Donald Trump’s vice president as a foil representing an oppressive opposition. Brian Slodysko, The Seattle Times, "Buttigieg, once cordial to Pence, now critical amid campaign," 13 Apr. 2019 Two other Republicans who have criticized Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and some of his policies, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, haven’t yet ruled out 2020 challenges to the president. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld Launches Long-Shot Primary Challenge to Trump," 15 Feb. 2019 Cheney herself has toed a line that many Republicans have, admonishing Trump’s rhetoric but still supporting his candidacy. Tara Golshan, Vox, "House Republicans have a new messenger: Liz Cheney," 14 Nov. 2018 His remarks contained a number of false statements and dangerous rhetoric that only increases the stigma and confusion around reproductive rights. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What President Trump Got Wrong About Abortion in His State of the Union Address," 6 Feb. 2019 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

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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