Rhetoric – What’s That?

We’ve been talking a lot about rhetoric when it comes to writing these days and I admit, I was completely baffled. It took me awhile to come to terms with what the definition was. I think I always assumed I knew what rhetoric was due to having read about it before, but not actually applied it to something and so when we began talking about the rhetoric of a writing I was a little lost I am afraid. So here’s a little knowledge for you…

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines rhetoric as below (click to follow the source link):

  1. 1:  the art of speaking or writing effectively: such asa :  the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient timesb :  the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion

  2. 2a :  skill in the effective use of speechb :  a type or mode of language or speech; also :  insincere or grandiloquent language

  3. 3:  verbal communication :  discourse

The part that had me confused was where it says, “speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.” I had never realized before that rhetoric was that type of writing! I was quite astounded! In fact, advertising was described as one of the prime examples of rhetoric.

I wonder what other gems I will pick up this year? (especially one’s like the above that make me feel silly for not knowing the proper definition!)


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