a rhetorical shrug

Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/us/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-debate.html?_r=0

Quotation: Mrs. Clinton has already been broadcasting an ad highlighting crude remarks from Mr. Trump about women; she answered his taunts about her marriage with a rhetorical shrug, telling reporters Mr. Trump was free to run whatever kind of campaign he preferred. On board her campaign plane, she plainly relished her moment of apparent triumph, and poked fun at Mr. Trump’s morning lamentations.
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Hi everyone! The word "rhetorical" puzzles me. Does it mean "a exaggerated shrug"?
 
  • DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    It means a rhetorical equivalent of a shrug: she did not exactly shrug, but she said something to shrug off Mr. Trump's comment.
     

    DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    Hmm...I think you are right. Simple Google search turned up with many "rhetorical shrug of the shoulders" so a rhetorical shrug must be a real shrug.
    I seem to have been misunderstanding the meaning of "rhetorical shrug" all these years. Sorry for the confusion.
    It seems to mean "a shrug as part of her rhetoric", "a shrug to emphasize her meaning" or something like that.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't think you have been misunderstanding all these years, DD. I searched for the phrase on Google, and came across many good examples of it being used to refer to some verbal remark. This for instance:

    “If the man urinates on the rhinoceros’s ear, it will run away and not return to him. That way, the man will escape from it. God knows best.” One has to wonder if the pious addendum is slightly tongue-in-cheek—a rhetorical shrug of the shoulders.

    In the Attic of Early Islam
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I don't think you have been misunderstanding all these years, DD. I searched for the phrase on Google, and came across many good examples of it being used to refer to some verbal remark. This for instance:

    “If the man urinates on the rhinoceros’s ear, it will run away and not return to him. That way, the man will escape from it. God knows best.” One has to wonder if the pious addendum is slightly tongue-in-cheek—a rhetorical shrug of the shoulders.

    In the Attic of Early Islam
    What about "rhetorical shrug" in my thread?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    telling reporters Mr. Trump was free to run whatever kind of campaign he preferred.

    It sounds to me like just another verbal "shrug" or dismissive remark.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But as I quoted in 2#, some news outlets reported:
    For the moment, Mrs Clinton answered Mr Trump's scattershot attacks with a dismissive shrug, telling reporters that Mr Trump was free to run whatever kind of campaign he preferred.
    Is "shrug" verbal? Is it possible that "shrugging her shoulders in a dismissive way, she answered his taunts... telling"?
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    What about "rhetorical shrug" in my thread?
    It means a metaphorical, verbal shrug. It does not mean whatsoever that she actually moved her shoulders.

    Of course, it may be independently true, by coincidence, that she really did shrug her shoulders. But that is not what the term "rhetorical shrug" means or implies.

    Is "shrug" verbal?
    No, it means lifting the shoulders and then letting them drop.

    But that's like asking if "kick" is verbal, when what's really in question is the phrase "a verbal kick to the seat of the pants."
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No, it means lifting the shoulders and then letting them drop.

    But that's like asking if "kick" is verbal, when what's really in question is the phrase "a verbal kick to the seat of the pants."
    Thank you for your explanation. A question remains:

    For the moment, Mrs Clinton answered Mr Trump's scattershot attacks with a dismissive shrug, telling reporters that Mr Trump was free to run whatever kind of campaign he preferred.
    Missed the Clinton-Trump Presidential Debate? Watch the Whole Thing Here

    So does "dismissive shrug" also mean "dismissive remark"? But I cannot see it. There's no "rhetorical" here. I'm confused. :confused::confused: Or perhaps I haven't understood your explanation...

    EDITED: Now I think I've understood your point now. Thanks. :D
     
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