Etymology
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rhetorical (adj.)

mid-15c., rethorical, "eloquent, according to the principles of rhetoric," from rhetoric (n.) or else from Latin rhetoricus (in Medieval Latin rethoricus), from Greek rhētorikos "oratorical, rhetorical; skilled in speaking," from rhētōr "orator."

The meaning "pertaining to rhetoric" is from 1520s. In later use also with implication of artificial extravagance. Rhetorical question, "statement put in the form of a question for rhetorical effect only and thus not requiring an answer," is from 1670s. Related: Rhetorically.

updated on August 10, 2021

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Definitions of rhetorical from WordNet

rhetorical (adj.)
of or relating to rhetoric; "accepted two or three verbal and rhetorical changes I suggested"- W.A.White; "the rhetorical sin of the meaningless variation"- Lewis Mumford;
rhetorical (adj.)
given to rhetoric, emphasizing style at the expense of thought;
mere rhetorical frippery
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.