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A diatribe is a speech or piece of writing which vehemently criticizes or denounces something. Historically, the subjects of diatribes are often based on general moral or rhetorical ideas. Diatribes can also be used satirically to make a point.


The diatribe originated in ancient Greece and Rome as an oral teaching method used by philosophers as early as 200 BC.


  • Creates and answers hypothetical objections to argument
  • Uses rhetorical questions
  • Creates imaginary opponents to thwart within argument
  • Uses historical analogies to enhance argument

Modern Usage

Modern diatribes generally attack a subject of moral or political persuasion, and launch criticism through lengthy arguments describing in detail why the topic of concern causes offense. Typical mediums for diatribes include news media, literary works, talk radio and political broadcasts.


"There seems almost of general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. “I am no novel reader- I seldom look into novels- Do not imagine that I often read novels- It is really very well for a novel.”- Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss-?” “Oh! it is only a novel!” replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame.- “It is only Cecelia, or Camilla, or Belinda;” or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the nest chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste; the substance of its paper so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation, which no longer concern any one living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favorable idea of the age that could endure it."

-Jane Austin, Northanger Abbey

Aaron Sorkin's Newsroom

External Links

Encyclopedia Britannica

Robert C. Newman Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute

The Literary Study Bible ESV.