a. The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.
b. A treatise or book discussing this art.
2. Skill in using language effectively and persuasively.
a. A style of speaking or writing, especially the language of a particular subject: fiery political rhetoric.
b. Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous: His offers of compromise were mere rhetoric.
4. Verbal communication; discourse.
[Middle English rethorik, from Old French rethorique, from Latin rhētoricē, rhētorica, from Greek rhētorikē (tekhnē), rhetorical (art), feminine of rhētorikos, rhetorical, from rhētōr, rhetor; see RHETOR.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.