[ri-tawr-i-kuhl, -tor-]


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.

Origin of rhetorical

1470–80; < Latin rhētoric(us) (< Greek rhētorikós) + -al1
Related formsrhe·tor·i·cal·ly, adverbrhe·tor·i·cal·ness, nounnon·rhe·tor·i·cal, adjectivenon·rhe·tor·i·cal·ly, adverbun·rhe·tor·i·cal, adjectiveun·rhe·tor·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for rhetorical

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

Examples from the Web for rhetorical

Contemporary Examples of rhetorical

Historical Examples of rhetorical

  • The Menexenus has more the character of a rhetorical exercise than any other of the Platonic works.

  • For I do not imagine that I have any rhetorical art of my own.

  • All of them are rhetorical and poetical rather than dialectical, but glimpses of truth appear in them.

  • Hardy was desperately in earnest, but not so much so as to be careless of rhetorical effect.

    Audrey Craven

    May Sinclair

  • What Inflection is placed on the rhetorical questions in par.

British Dictionary definitions for rhetorical



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