Term of Art: Rhetorical Question

“Rhetorical Question: A question that expects no answer. The answer may be self-evident (If she doesn’t like me why should I care what she thinks?) or immediately provided by the questioner (What should be done? Well, first we should…). The question is often asked for dramatic effect. Rhetorical questions are sometimes announced with such a phrase as I ask you (when nothing is in fact being asked): ‘Garn! I ask you, what kind of a word is that? / It’s Ow and Garn that keep her in her place / Not her wretched clothes and dirty face’ (Alan Jay Lerner, My Fair Lady, 1956).”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.