Rhetorical question

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A rhetorical question is a question that is asked without the expectation of an answer. A rhetorical question is posed for dramatic effect, to drive home a point. A rhetorical question may be posed to start a discussion, to serve as a call to change, as a challenge, as a metaphor or as a signal that debate has ended. A rhetorical question is a figure of speech, which is a word, phrase or grammar construction that is not to be taken literally. The word rhetorical comes from the Greek rhetorikos, meaning oratorical, rhetorical, skilled in speaking. Question comes from the Anglo-French questiun, meaning an utterance meant to elicit an answer or discussion. The figure of speech known as a rhetorical question is first used in the 1670s.


Asked if he was happy with a 0-0 scoreline, he responded: “It is a rhetorical question. (The Independent)

In 2013, in front of a Senate committee, Mrs. Clinton blunted attacks with her dramatic rhetorical question: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” (The Wall Street Journal)

There’s a very annoying rhetorical question that gets deployed at times. That being, how can something influence matters before it has actually happened? (Forbes)

Is there anything Kourtney Kardashian doesn’t look good in? (That was a rhetorical question.) (People Magazine)

A rhetorical question will probably go unanswered — what would happen if both lined up in the same backfield? (The Chicago Daily Herald)

The story asks a rhetorical question: What will happen to the world if people always choose the demon inside of them to dominate over the angelic side? (India West)

Judy Clarke, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyer, was midway through her closing statement Monday when she posed a rhetorical question. (The Boston Globe)