(in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.
the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.
the study of the effective use of language.
the ability to use language effectively.
the art of prose in general as opposed to verse.
the art of making persuasive speeches; oratory.
(in classical oratory) the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.
(in older use) a work on rhetoric.

1300–50; < Latin rhētorica < Greek rhētorikḕ (téchnē) rhetorical (art); replacing Middle English rethorik < Medieval Latin rēthorica, Latin rhētorica, as above

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World English Dictionary
rhetoric (ˈrɛtərɪk)
1.  the study of the technique of using language effectively
2.  the art of using speech to persuade, influence, or please; oratory
3.  excessive use of ornamentation and contrivance in spoken or written discourse; bombast
4.  speech or discourse that pretends to significance but lacks true meaning: all the politician says is mere rhetoric
[C14: via Latin from Greek rhētorikē (tekhnē) (the art of) rhetoric, from rhētōrrhetor]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. rethorique, from L. rhetorice, from Gk. rhetorike techne "art of an orator," from rhetor (gen. rhetoros) "orator," related to rhema "word," lit. "that which is spoken," from PIE *wre-tor-, from base *were- "to speak" (cf. O.E. word, L. verbum, Gk. eirein "to say;" see verb).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Rhetoric boils with urgency, but the talks go slowly.
More recently, militant groups have picked up their rhetoric.
Her self portraits are a study in contrasts as well: the rhetoric of the images
  as she represented herself is fascinating.
He has all the proper sentiments, and his rhetoric and rimes are easy work for
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