Definition: Rhetoric

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English rethorik, rhetoric, from Old French rhetorique, from Latin rhētorica, from Ancient Greek ῥητορική or rhētorikḗ, ellipsis of ῥητορικὴ τέχνη or rhētorik tékhnē, from ῥητορικός or rhētorikós (concerning public speech), from ῥήτωρ or rhḗtōr (public speaker).


rhetoric (countable and uncountable, plural rhetorics)

  1. The art of using language, especially public speaking, as a means to persuade.
    I will be learning a lot about rhetoric in my public speaking class.
  2. Meaningless language with an exaggerated style intended to impress.
    I was not convinced by the rhetoric of any of the politicians.

Derived terms

  • rhetorical
  • rhetorician


rhetoric (not comparable)

  1. Synonym of rhetorical; part of or similar to rhetoric.

Usage notes

The adjective form is usually pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, while the noun form has the emphasis on the first syllable.


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors copied and adjusted this Wiktionary entry in accordance with NWE standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit for this article is due to both New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions at Wiktionary is accessible to researchers here: