February 04, 2012
rhetoric (noun)
\RET-uh-rik\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : the art of speaking or writing effectively2 : the study or use of the principles and rules of composition3 a : skill in the effective use of speech b : language that is not honest, sincere, or meaningful
How do you use it?
In English class this semester, students will be learning rhetoric through a series of essays they will be writing.
Are you a word wiz?

Now that you've learned the word "rhetoric," let's take a look at its close relative, "rhetorical." One of the meanings of "rhetorical" is "of, relating to, or dealing with rhetoric." Which of the following do you think is another meaning of "rhetorical"?

We weren't asking a rhetorical question; we hoped you'd answer, and correctly choose A. "Rhetorical question" is a common phrase, and it refers to a question that you do not expect anyone to answer, but that you are asking just to make a point or to make an impression on someone (such as, "When will they learn?"). These two close relatives, "rhetoric" and "rhetorical," both come from the Greek word "rhetorike," which refers to the art of speaking in public eloquently and effectively. "Rhetorike" traces back to the Greek word "eirein," meaning "to say, speak."
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