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In classical rhetoric, one of the three main persuasive strategies as defined by Aristotle in Rhetoric: the appeal to logic (logos), the appeal to the emotions (pathos), and the appeal to the character (or perceived character) of the speaker (ethos).

More broadly, an appeal may be any persuasive strategy, especially one directed to the emotions, sense of humor, or cherished beliefs of an audience.

See also:


From the Latin, "to entreat"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Appeals are not the same as fallacies, which are simply faulty reasoning that may be used intentionally to deceive. Appeals can be part of a reasonable argumentative case. The potential for misuse, however, is present in all appeals . . .. Two of the most common appeals are those to the emotions and those to authority."
    (James A. Herrick, Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments. Strata, 2007)

  • "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate."
    (Bertrand Russell)

  • "Fear appeals are one of the most common persuasive devices encountered by consumers today. In a class lecture at our university, a product manager at a telecommunications giant acknowledged that one of the firm's most common sales techniques is to use fear, uncertainty, and doubt--also known as FUD . . .. Using FUD tactics also may be a component of propaganda campaigns where appeals are made to people to support various causes such as saying no to drugs or smoking."
    (Charles U. Larson, Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility. Cengage, 2009)
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