Share this entry

rhetorical Line breaks: rhet|oric¦al
Pronunciation: /rɪˈtɒrɪk(ə)l/

Definition of rhetorical in English:


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.
2(Of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.
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.



Pronunciation: /rɪˈtɒrɪkli/
Example sentences
  • First, rights rhetorically acknowledge what we fundamentally value.
  • The parallelism, while rhetorically effective, was also overly glib.
  • His stance also may have been influenced by a US retreat, at least rhetorically, from its war to eradicate coca leaf.

Words that rhyme with rhetorical

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

Definition of rhetorical in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwɑːˈfəː
a hairdresser