Definition of rhetorical in US English:

rhetorical

adjective

  • 1Relating to or concerned with the art of rhetoric.

    ‘repetition is a common rhetorical device’
    • ‘Ovid's chiasmus is a rhetorical picture of the lovers being pulled apart.’
    • ‘Once a commentator commits a major rhetorical gaffe or colossal misstatement of fact, it becomes impossible to take them seriously.’
    • ‘Such an ambivalence would make for incoherence and would be hard to accept if we had here mere rhetorical devices and style recipes.’
    • ‘It can not be guaranteed by either rhetoric or philosophy, by rhetorical pragmatism or foundationalist theory.’
    • ‘It is a rhetorical strategy in which scriptural quotations, typologies, or tropes are used for satirical ends.’
    • ‘It presents an example of Chicana feminist rhetoric and an inroad to this rhetorical tradition.’
    • ‘Unlike Goodman, he stopped short of action by private individuals, but this may have been a rhetorical device.’
    • ‘Hamlet as a play is similarly preoccupied by slander, misrepresentation and selves fabricated from the nothings of rhetorical tropes.’
    • ‘That's a nice little rhetorical trick, to pretend that the only possible omnivorous diet must be an unhealthy fast food one.’
    • ‘Yet isn't prosopopeia a rhetorical device that is found, as a matter of course, in all poetry?’
    • ‘A similar rhetorical device is used to make numbers of weapons appear shocking.’
    • ‘It should be made clear that India in this regard is a synecdoche (a term of rhetorical analysis for a part which stands for the whole).’
    • ‘This, she shows, is a rhetorical device, with no implication that the dead can actually communicate.’
    • ‘That is, the songs' rhetorical strategies paralleled those of epideictic speeches.’
    • ‘This is an argument from the field of descriptive linguistics, made for a rhetorical audience of laypeople.’
    • ‘Farewells are commonly used rhetorical tools intended to invite the listener/reader into the moment.’
    • ‘At minimum, the seller must establish enough of the attributes of attachment to establish the rhetorical framework for persuasion.’
    • ‘The word dignitas was a Latin rhetorical and political term that indicated either the possession of high political or social rank or the moral qualities associated with it.’
    • ‘In mentioning the range of the rhetorical lexicon we are not simply talking about lists of tropes and figures.’
    • ‘In a work of literature Stewart's lies would constitute synecdoche, the rhetorical device in which a part stands for the whole.’
    stylistic, oratorical, linguistic, verbal
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Expressed in terms intended to persuade or impress.
      ‘the rhetorical commitment of the government to give priority to primary education’
      • ‘Few were willing to make more than a rhetorical commitment to revolutionary activism.’
      • ‘People in developing nations do not need empty rhetorical commitments to alleviating the most extreme manifestations of poverty.’
      • ‘But not overly strong on our sense of irony, if the rhetorical bombast of this article is anything to go by.’
      • ‘In the second phase it will be necessary to be practical as well as rhetorical, to persuade as well as instruct.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, it may be that Paul's rhetorical strategy can still be persuasive on another level.’
      • ‘The article is almost purely rhetorical, with virtually nothing of substance offered in terms of legal arguments.’
      • ‘With previous Tory leaders, there was at least a rhetorical commitment to a return on the investment through tax cuts.’
      • ‘Imperialism is a term often used as a rhetorical flourish and definitions vary especially in academic discourse and social discussion tracts.’
      • ‘Are their preferences driven less by political persuasions and by rhetorical flourishes and more by the economic bottomline?’
      • ‘As well as being badly written, it is too long, too vague, too pompous, too rhetorical, too unrealistic and too boring.’
      • ‘But the president has a rhetorical commitment which is hard to ditch.’
      • ‘But one has to be aware of the rhetorical value that these terms are going to have.’
      • ‘Perhaps in the end, the equal opportunity principle is a matter of rhetorical commitment more than practical credo.’
      • ‘A broad rhetorical commitment to this ideal coexisted with stringent restrictions on speech deemed radical or obscene.’
      • ‘While he has shown a rhetorical commitment to reform, progress on the ground has been glacial.’
      • ‘But even a rhetorical commitment to sending back the money was influential, not least in the political development of Frederick Douglass, as we shall see.’
      • ‘The impression is of rhetorical rings being run round Hamerton.’
      • ‘The question I think that we're going to ask is, is this a rhetorical commitment or is there something larger here?’
      • ‘The bottom line is that the party maintains a rhetorical commitment to small government but tacitly admits that their cause is hopeless.’
      • ‘Successive governments have also proclaimed the goal of lifting growth rates, but too often their commitment has been rhetorical only.’
      extravagant, grandiloquent, magniloquent, high-flown, high-sounding, sonorous, lofty, orotund, bombastic, grandiose, pompous, pretentious, overblown, overripe, oratorical, turgid, flowery, florid, declamatory, ciceronian
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    2. 1.2 (of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.
      • ‘Rather he makes an antagonistic statement, couched as a rhetorical question.’
      • ‘This isn't a rhetorical question but one that, again, would help show whether they're applying this rule fairly or arbitrarily.’
      • ‘It might be a rather petulant rhetorical question, or he might just be trying to keep me on the phone.’
      • ‘People waffle, ramble and throw rhetorical questions into the ether in their blogs, or even just imply that they might wish for a better way round a certain situation.’
      • ‘It was a statement, a rhetorical question, and just by looking at her he was sure that it had made her angry.’
      • ‘Isn't it ineffective to make statements over and over again in the form of rhetorical questions?’
      • ‘I ask these not as rhetorical questions and not as a prelude to an intelligent statement that explains exactly how it ends.’
      • ‘Why does Billmon keep asking these rhetorical questions?’
      • ‘She can only be answered with more rhetorical questions.’
      • ‘Mr Henderson's rhetorical question can be easily answered.’
      • ‘Adding to the list of rhetorical questions, why did the teenage daughter have such low standards for her boyfriend?’
      • ‘I don't regard that as a rhetorical question: there is an answer.’
      • ‘Kyle didn't offer him the time to answer the rather rhetorical question.’
      • ‘It's in keeping with the rest of this discursive, stimulating book that Kermode leaves the reader with such a provocative, rhetorical question.’
      • ‘That's not a rhetorical question; I'd really like to know.’
      • ‘The poem avoids question marks not just because Merwin has eschewed all punctuation, but also because his questions are rhetorical.’
      • ‘Don't worry, these are all rhetorical questions.’
      • ‘But, since the Doctor's question was obviously rhetorical, I'm willing to let it slide.’
      • ‘Before I even ask a rhetorical question of how you feel about this, it has been such a joy to watch you come out here these past three weeks, and put your heart and soul into it.’
      • ‘I wasn't sure if this was a rhetorical question or not.’

Origin

Late Middle English (first used in the sense ‘eloquently expressed’): via Latin from Greek rhētorikos (from rhētor ‘rhetor’) + -al.

Pronunciation

rhetorical

/rəˈtɔrək(ə)l//rəˈtôrək(ə)l/