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[ri-tawr-i-kuh l, -tor-] /rɪˈtɔr ɪ kəl, -ˈtɒr-/
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 forms
rhetorically, adverb
rhetoricalness, noun
nonrhetorical, adjective
nonrhetorically, adverb
unrhetorical, adjective
unrhetorically, adverb
1. verbal, stylistic, oratorical. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rhetorically
  • rhetorically, science and metaphysics are incompatible.
  • Their views are much closer than their fierce and rhetorically exaggerated campaign rivalry suggests.
  • rhetorically, his speech sought to bind those wounds by binding us together.
  • The president was engaged in the war rhetorically but maintained an odd detachment from its management.
  • Terrorism has become not merely a political act, but a carefully designed and rhetorically sophisticated attempt at communication.
  • rhetorically, the use of confrontation seems to be advisable only when other approaches have failed.
  • She rhetorically asked--now that he was satisfied, was he going to stop seeing her.
British Dictionary definitions for rhetorically


concerned with effect or style rather than content or meaning; bombastic
of or relating to rhetoric or oratory
Derived Forms
rhetorically, 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
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Word Origin and History for rhetorically



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
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