from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.
  • noun A treatise or book discussing this art.
  • noun Skill in using language effectively and persuasively.
  • noun A style of speaking or writing, especially the language of a particular subject.
  • noun Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous.
  • noun Verbal communication; discourse.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Rhetorical; formerly, eloquent.
  • noun The art of discourse; the art of using language so as to influence others.
  • noun Skill in discourse; artistic use of language.
  • noun Artificial oratory, as opposed to that which is natural and unaffected; display in language; ostentatious or meretricious declamation.
  • noun The power of persuasion; persuasive influence.
  • noun Synonyms Elocution, Eloquence, etc. See oratory.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The art of composition; especially, elegant composition in prose.
  • noun Oratory; the art of speaking with propriety, elegance, and force.
  • noun Hence, artificial eloquence; fine language or declamation without conviction or earnest feeling.
  • noun Fig. : The power of persuasion or attraction; that which allures or charms.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Synonym of rhetorical.
  • noun The art of using language, especially public speaking, as a means to persuade.
  • noun Meaningless language with an exaggerated style intended to impress.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun study of the technique and rules for using language effectively (especially in public speaking)
  • noun loud and confused and empty talk
  • noun using language effectively to please or persuade
  • noun high-flown style; excessive use of verbal ornamentation


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin rhētorica, from Ancient Greek ῥητορική (rhētorikē), feminine form of ῥητορικός (rhētorikos, "concerning public speech"), from ῥήτωρ (rhētōr, "public speaker").



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  • I love this bit from the Century: "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.)."

    I'd guess Charles Sanders Peirce had something to do with this definition.

    September 22, 2011

  • Ha ha!

    September 22, 2011

  • !

    September 22, 2011