[ ri-tawr-i-kuhl, -tor- ]
/ rɪˈtɔr ɪ kəl, -ˈtɒr- /


used for, belonging to, or concerned with mere style or effect.
marked by or tending to use exaggerated language or bombast.
of, relating to, or concerned with rhetoric, or the effective use of language.

Nearby words

  1. rhet.,
  2. rhetian,
  3. rhetic,
  4. rhetor,
  5. rhetoric,
  6. rhetorical question,
  7. rhetorical stress,
  8. rhetorician,
  9. rheum,
  10. rheumatalgia

Origin of rhetorical

1470–80; < Latin rhētoric(us) (< Greek rhētorikós) + -al1

Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rhetorical

British Dictionary definitions for rhetorical


/ (rɪˈtɒrɪkəl) /


concerned with effect or style rather than content or meaning; bombastic
of or relating to rhetoric or oratory
Derived Formsrhetorically, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rhetorical



mid-15c., "eloquent," from Latin rhetoricus, from Greek rhetorikos "oratorical, rhetorical; skilled in speaking," from rhetor "orator" (see rhetoric). Meaning "pertaining to rhetoric" is from 1520s. Rhetorical question is from 1670s. Related: Rhetorically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper