a question asked solely to produce an effect or to make an assertion of affirmation or denial and not to elicit a reply, as “Has there ever been a more perfect day for a picnic?” or “Are you out of your mind?”
- Also called erotesis, ep·er·o·tes·is [ep-er-uh-tee-sis], /ˌɛp ɛr əˈti sɪs/, er·o·te·ma [er-uh-tee-muh]. /ˌɛr əˈti mə/.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use rhetorical question in a sentence
That sounds like a rhetorical question, but I mean it quite literally as a question.The Republican Street Fight Over Transparency in Government | Lawrence Lessig | March 26, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Instead, Burkman asked a rhetorical question, “Do I want to enter a business of prescribing what is indecent?”Lobbyist Has An Indecent Proposal for Gays in the NFL | Ben Jacobs | February 25, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
He then posed a rhetorical question that has become a rallying cry of the NRA.Best of Sunday Talk: NRA in the Crosshairs, Ben Affleck & More | | December 23, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
Carlisle perceived a rhetorical question, though she didn't know it under that name; she made no reply.V. V.'s Eyes | Henry Sydnor Harrison
It is a rhetorical question purely, but she does not want to play.Seductio Ad Absurdum | Emily Hahn
Hush, Charles; it's a rhetorical question; he wants to answer it himself.Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays | Various
He emitted a tremulous sigh before answering his own rhetorical question.The Competitive Nephew | Montague Glass
For a moment he was pulled up, when to his rhetorical question, "What has Home Rule meant to us?"
British Dictionary definitions for rhetorical question
a question to which no answer is required: used esp for dramatic effect. An example is Who knows? (with the implication Nobody knows)
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
Cultural definitions for rhetorical question
A question posed without expectation of an answer but merely as a way of making a point: “You don't expect me to go along with that crazy scheme, do you?”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with rhetorical question
A question asked without expecting an answer but for the sake of emphasis or effect. The expected answer is usually “yes” or “no.” For example, Can we improve the quality of our work? That's a rhetorical question. [Late 1800s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.