devil's advocate

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n devil's advocate someone who takes the worse side just for the sake of argument
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The term "devil's advocate" comes from the Roman Catholic Church. When deciding if someone should be sainted, a devil's advocate is always appointed to give an alternative view.
    • Devil's advocate a name given to the Promoter of the Faith, an advocate at the papal court, whose duty it is to propose all reasonable objections against a person's claims to canonisation
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Idioms

Devil's advocate - If someone plays Devil's advocate in an argument, they adopt a position they don't believe in just for the sake of the argument
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Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. deóful, deófol—L. diabolus—Gr. diabolos, from diaballein, to throw across, to slander, from dia, across, and ballein, to throw; cf. Ger. teufel, Fr. diable, It. diavolo, Sp. diablo.

Usage

In literature:

God's advocate am I with the devil: he, however, is the spirit of gravity.
"Thus Spake Zarathustra A Book for All and None" by Friedrich Nietzsche
From that night, I was the devil's advocate, if you like.
"The After House" by Mary Roberts Rinehart
ADVOCATUS DIABOLI, the devil's advocate, a functionary in the Roman Catholic Church appointed to show reason against a proposed canonization.
"The Nuttall Encyclopaedia" by Edited by Rev. James Wood
Here is my friend Mariette playing the devil's advocate as usual.
"Lady Merton, Colonist" by Mrs. Humphry Ward
Obviously Sergeant Mahony would make a good "devil's advocate" at the canonization of Father M'Fadden.
"Ireland Under Coercion (2nd ed.) (1 of 2) (1888)" by William Henry Hurlbert
Some unseen devil's advocate was urging her, for the instant half-persuading her, insinuating and luring.
"Destiny" by Charles Neville Buck
The devil's advocate has the laugh distinctly on his side, whatever may be said of the argument.
"Hours in a Library, Volume I. (of III.)" by Leslie Stephen
I shall be the devil's advocate.
"Debts of Honor" by Maurus Jókai
The blues detach themselves too much, perhaps, from the rest of the coloring; and that is all a devil's advocate could say.
"New Italian sketches" by John Addington Symonds
At the same time, the Devil's Advocate need not be a Kelly or a Cockburn to make out some damaging suggestions.
"A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1" by George Saintsbury
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In news:

FC devil's advocate: forget about it.
FC Devil's Advocate: club was lucky to get a draw in LA.
I would argue that he is sometimes playing devil's advocate when he became immersed in these naturalistic forays.
While making it perfectly clear that nobody's reputation should be brushed aside like "roadkill," the Supreme Court of Canada made it easier yesterday for radio "shock jocks " and devil's advocates to engage in freewheeling public debate.
The Devil 's Advocate.
Here's some Devils' advocate thinking for a Wednesday.
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