Definition of protreptic in English:



  • Intended to persuade or instruct.

    ‘the dialogues have a protreptic function’
    • ‘He put his literary skills, human experience, and common sense at the service of his protreptic and paedagogic purpose.’
    • ‘The 'protreptic' passage in the Euthydemus anticipates the Stoics in its claim that what are called 'goods' (health, wealth, and so on) are not really so.’
    • ‘He identifies Romans as "a deliberative discourse which uses an epistolary framework and in some ways comports with a protreptic letter."’
    • ‘Punk is sometimes effective in articulating a critique of capitalism with a protreptic energy capable of positioning its audience in struggles over justice and social change.’
    • ‘This text belongs to the well-established genre in ancient philosophy of protreptic or exhortational literature.’


  • A piece of writing or speech intended to persuade or instruct.

    ‘ancient philosophical protreptics’
    • ‘His elegant epistles, brilliant treatises, and eloquent protreptics for asceticism appeared to promise him great things.’
    • ‘His work is a protreptic to the contemplation of God.’
    • ‘Plato's attempt to argue for the split between the intelligible and sensible world in Books VI and VII of the Republic may well be a protreptic directed at Archytas, who refused to separate numbers from things.’
    • ‘Obviously no pupil of Plato who was acquainted with the main parts of the Republic could have blamed Socrates for concerning himself merely with protreptics in political ethics.’
    • ‘Plato felt he had literary rivals, and this may explain this somewhat odd combination of esoterism, protreptic and apology in a literarily brilliant form.’
    enjoinder, call, charge, injunction
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: via late Latin from Greek protreptikos ‘instructive’, from pro- ‘before’ + trepein ‘to turn’.