Definition of rhetorical in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɪˈtɒrɪk(ə)l/


1Relating to or concerned with the art of rhetoric: repetition is a common rhetorical device
More example sentences
  • Such an ambivalence would make for incoherence and would be hard to accept if we had here mere rhetorical devices and style recipes.
  • Yet isn't prosopopeia a rhetorical device that is found, as a matter of course, in all poetry?
  • Hamlet as a play is similarly preoccupied by slander, misrepresentation and selves fabricated from the nothings of rhetorical tropes.
stylistic, oratorical, linguistic, verbal
1.1Expressed in terms intended to persuade or impress: the rhetorical commitment of the government to give priority to primary education
More example sentences
  • In the second phase it will be necessary to be practical as well as rhetorical, to persuade as well as instruct.
  • But one has to be aware of the rhetorical value that these terms are going to have.
  • The bottom line is that the party maintains a rhetorical commitment to small government but tacitly admits that their cause is hopeless.
extravagant, grandiloquent, magniloquent, high-flown, high-sounding, sonorous, lofty, orotund, bombastic, grandiose, pompous, pretentious, overblown, overripe, oratorical, turgid, flowery, florid, declamatory, Ciceronian
informal highfalutin
rare tumid, epideictic, fustian, euphuistic, aureate, Demosthenic, Demosthenean
2(Of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information: the general intended his question to be purely rhetorical
More example sentences
  • It might be a rather petulant rhetorical question, or he might just be trying to keep me on the phone.
  • Kyle didn't offer him the time to answer the rather rhetorical question.
  • It was a statement, a rhetorical question, and just by looking at her he was sure that it had made her angry.


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

Words that rhyme with rhetorical

ahistorical, allegorical, categorical, historical, metaphorical, oratorical, phantasmagorical
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