• WordNet 3.6
    • n rhetoric study of the technique and rules for using language effectively (especially in public speaking)
    • n rhetoric loud and confused and empty talk "mere rhetoric"
    • n rhetoric high-flown style; excessive use of verbal ornamentation "the grandiosity of his prose","an excessive ornateness of language"
    • n rhetoric using language effectively to please or persuade
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Rhetoric Fig. : The power of persuasion or attraction; that which allures or charms. "Sweet, silent rhetoric of persuading eyes."
    • Rhetoric Hence, artificial eloquence; fine language or declamation without conviction or earnest feeling.
    • Rhetoric Oratory; the art of speaking with propriety, elegance, and force.
    • Rhetoric The art of composition; especially, elegant composition in prose.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n rhetoric The art of discourse; the art of using language so as to influence others. Rhetoric is that art which consists in a systematic use of the technical means of influencing the minds, imaginations, emotions, and actions of others by the use of language. Primarily, it is the art of oratory, with inclusion of both composition and delivery; secondarily, it also includes written composition and recitation. It is also used in narrower senses, so as to present the idea of composition alone, or the idea of oratorical delivery (elocution) alone. Etymologically, rhetoric is the art, or rather the technics (τέχνη, somewhat, different in scope from our art), of the rhetor—that is, either the popular (political) orator or the judicial and professional rhetor. Accordingly, ancient writers regarded it mainly as the art of persuasion, and something of this view almost always attaches to the word even in modern use, so that it appears to be more or less inappropriate to use rhetoric of mere scientific, didactic, or expository composition. The element of persuasion, or at least of influence of thought, belongs, however, to such composition also in so far as accurate and well-arranged statement of views leads to their adoption or rejection, the very object of instruction involving this. On the other hand, poetry and epidictic oratory chiefly address the imagination and emotions, while the most important branches of oratory (deliberative and judicial oratory) appeal especially to the mind and emotions with a view to influencing immediate action. The theory or science underlying the art of rhetoric, and sometimes called by the same name, is essentially a creation of the ancient Greeks. Rhetoric was cultivated on its more practical side first of all by the earlier rhetors (so-called “sophists”) and orators (Em pedocles—considered the inventor of rhetoric—Gorgias, Isocrates, etc.), many of whom wrote practical treatises (τέχναι) on the art. The philosophers, on the other hand, among them Aristotle, treated the subject from the theoretical side. The system of rhetoric which finally became established, and has never been superseded, though largely mutilated and misunderstood in medieval and modern times, is that founded upon the system of the Stoic philosophers by the practical rhetorician Hermagoras (about 60 b. c.). Its most important extant representatives are Hermogenes (about a. d). 165) among the Greeks, and Quintilian (about a. d. 95) among the Latins. This theory recognizes three great divisions of oratory. (See oratory.) The art of rhetoric was divided into five parts: invention, disposition, elocution (not in the modern sense, but comprising diction and style), memory (mnemonics), and action (delivery, including the modern elocution).
    • n rhetoric Skill in discourse; artistic use of language.
    • n rhetoric Artificial oratory, as opposed to that which is natural and unaffected; display in language; ostentatious or meretricious declamation.
    • n rhetoric The power of persuasion; persuasive influence.
    • n rhetoric Synonyms Elocution, Eloquence, etc. See oratory.
    • rhetoric Rhetorical; formerly, eloquent.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Rhetoric ret′or-ik the theory and practice of eloquence, whether spoken or written, the whole art of using language so as to persuade others: the art of speaking with propriety, elegance, and force: artificial oratory: declamation
    • ***


  • Francis Bacon
    “Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.”
  • Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
    “Power is the most persuasive rhetoric.”
  • Plato
    “Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men.”
  • Jan Zamoiski
    Jan Zamoiski
    “Rhetoric is nothing, but reason well dressed and argument put in order.”
  • George Santayana
    “Wealth, religion, military victory have more rhetorical than efficacious worth.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. rhétorique, L. rhetorica, Gr. (sc. ), fr. rhetorical, oratorical, fr. orator, rhetorician; perhaps akin to E. word,; cf. to say
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr.,—L. rhetorica (ars)—Gr. rhētorikē (technē), the rhetorical (art)—rhētōr, a public speaker—erein, to speak.


In literature:

Except for purposes of rhetoric the metaphor that seemed so clever fails.
"Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, Complete" by John Symonds
A false note in rhetoric like the above you will find in Emerson oftener than a false note in taste.
"The Last Harvest" by John Burroughs
It will be remembered that the Romans considered rhetoric, or the art of the rhetor, or orator, as first in importance.
"Little Journeys To The Homes Of Great Teachers" by Elbert Hubbard
Every one nearly is without a saving touch of rhetoric.
"Thoughts on religion at the front" by Neville Stuart Talbot
The truth is that the Irish are so clear-headed and critical that they still regard rhetoric as a distinct art, as the ancients did.
"George Bernard Shaw" by Gilbert K. Chesterton
I have mentioned these poems here, because they seem to be the development of the rhetorical vein which appeared in the earlier work.
"Alexander Pope" by Leslie Stephen
He withdrew into a wood, and in the night-time fell upon his sword, which Strato, who had been his teacher in rhetoric, held for him.
"A Smaller History of Rome" by William Smith and Eugene Lawrence
The varieties of Burke's literary or rhetorical method are very striking.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 4" by Various
Serbia's tragedy needs no rhetoric, no language to describe it, to exalt it.
"Serbia in Light and Darkness" by Nikolaj Velimirovic
After teaching grammar at Tagaste, and rhetoric at Carthage, he proceeded to Rome, against the wish of Monica.
"Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Carlisle" by C. King Eley

In poetry:

What deeds have sprung from plow and pick!
What bank-rolls from tomatoes!
No dainty crop of rhetoric
Can match one of potatoes.
"Dr. Booker T. Washington To The National Negro Business League" by Joseph Seamon Cotter Sr
The children romp within the graveyard's pale;
The lark sings o'er a madhouse, or a gaol;--
Such nice antitheses of perfect poise
Chance in her curious rhetoric employs.
"Epigrams" by William Watson
Our wig of rhetoric is buckled,
And in a box, like cradle, truckled;
But not that cradle often seen,
'Twas one without a head I mean;
Nor was it needful for more stuff--
The wig itself was load enough.
"The Wig" by William Hutton
Here, too, shall Conway's name appear;
He praised the stream so lovely clear,
That shone the reeds among;
Yet clearness could it not disclose,
To match the rhetoric that flows
From Conway's polish'd tongue.
"A Pastoral Ode. To the Hon. Sir Richard Lyttleton" by William Shenstone
The beasts have spoke in prose and rhime,
From Master Gay to Æsop's time.
Black fleas and spiders, who could spin,
Masters of rhetoric have been;
With ease then my Coach Horses may
Deliver all I have to say.
"The Coach Horses" by William Hutton
"Then you'll take cold--it shall not be;
No, no, John, you shall sleep with me."
Alarm'd--"Sir, I no evil know--
Chair, squab, or floor, for me will do."
But all his rhetoric lost the field;
As servant he was bound to yield.
"The Coachman's Fall" by William Hutton

In news:

Decoding the rhetoric on the presidential politics of public land.
Here are five bogus themes that crop up repeatedly in political rhetoric.
The rhetoric of the super PACs is making this presidential contest very uncivil.
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott saved his rhetoric for after the game this time.
( Related item: Bush: 'Tone down' rhetoric).
Scott Gessler's rhetoric so partisan even Mike Rosen should call him on it.
H ow long do politicians have to keep on promising heaven and delivering hell before people catch on and stop getting swept away by rhetoric.
Iran, Britain Tone Down Rhetoric.
But his manner is smooth, almost unctuous, not occasionally scary like Speaker Newt Gingrich's rhetoric.
Has about five weeks left in contract talks with the union representing its engineers and technical workers, which means the rhetoric out of both camps is getting interesting.
Enough of this trite , empty political rhetoric.
Riding on more sanctions and rhetoric, tensions between the US and Iran continue to escalate.
In an age of increasingly hot rhetoric, at a time when vitriolic criticism runs rampant across media categories, did Joe Nocera really go too far.
Vitriolic rhetoric hurts, not helps, our country.
Guest columnist Steve Hernandez inspires a debate over vitriolic rhetoric and violent outcomes.

In science:

EVALUATION OF KNOWLEDGE MODEL In this section, we will discuss the procedure of developing a domain-specific ontology and framework for semantic relations. The results of rhetorical, topical, and discourse analysis are also outlined in this section. A.
A Corpus-based Evaluation of a Domain-specific Text to Knowledge Mapping Prototype
Rhetorical Analysis To find the stereotypical relations in the domain, RST proposed by Mann & Thompson is used as a descriptive tool.
A Corpus-based Evaluation of a Domain-specific Text to Knowledge Mapping Prototype
Research work like Rosner & Stede and Vander Linden also used this framework for the rhetorical analysis in their corpus.
A Corpus-based Evaluation of a Domain-specific Text to Knowledge Mapping Prototype
Summarizing scientific articles: Experiments with relevance and rhetorical status.
MUDOS-NG: Multi-document Summaries Using N-gram Graphs (Tech Report)
This approach postulates a rhetorical structure which can be used to select information from an underlying knowledge base.
Inferring Strategies for Sentence Ordering in Multidocument News Summarization