I've always understood that the term rhetoric specifically referred to the conveyance of some concept that is not represented at all in the literal meaning of the words used.

A few examples:
These refugees just keep crossing our borders.
Their crossing of borders is axiomatically bad.

If you prick us, do we not bleed?
We are the same.

These so-called experts think we need more supervision.
We don't need more supervision, and their expertise is in question.

I've just started digging into the subject of rhetoric, and found I've been very wrong in my definition, but still find the concept of that unstated component interesting.

Is there a term for it, and if so, what is it?

  • This sounds like subtext. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 6:50
  • Are these not just implications? An implicit statement meant to be inferred from the context of the explicit statement that is made?
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 11:16
  • You would probably learn a lot by reading the Wikipedia entry on rhetoric
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


An argument with an unstated but implied premise is an enthymeme.

From the Silva Rhetoricae:


  1. The informal method of reasoning typical of rhetorical discourse. The enthymeme is sometimes defined as a "truncated syllogism" since either the major or minor premise found in that more formal method of reasoning is left implied. The enthymeme typically occurs as a conclusion coupled with a reason. When several enthymemes are linked together, this becomes sorites.

The implicit premise itself doesn't have a dedicated term which I'm aware of, but you might call it a enthymemetic premise or a suppressed premise or even a tacit premise (as opposed to an explicit premise).

These are the kinds of premises embedded, but hidden, in loaded questions (in fact, they are the very thing the question is loaded with!).


You might call them assumptions, or presuppositions if you are referring to something more closely related to one's mindset or worldview.

Assumption noun 1 A thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof:
‘they made certain assumptions about the market’
[with clause] ‘we're working on the assumption that the time of death was after midnight’

Presupposition noun A thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action:
‘both men shared certain ethical presuppositions about the universe’

  • How about implicit assumptions or premises? Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 7:41
  • @aparente001 Implicit assumptions fall under the definition of presuppositions, as do premises, axioms and the like.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 8:12

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