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ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-kət How to pronounce advocate (audio) -ˌkāt How to pronounce advocate (audio)
: one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal
an advocate of liberal arts education
: one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group
a consumer advocate
an advocate for women's health
He has paid respectful attention to the home schooling movement by meeting with its advocates and endorsing their cause.Elizabeth Drew
: one who pleads the cause of another
specifically : one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court


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ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-ˌkāt How to pronounce advocate (audio)
advocated; advocating

transitive verb

: to support or argue for (a cause, policy, etc.) : to plead in favor of
They advocated a return to traditional teaching methods.
a group that advocates vegetarianism

intransitive verb

: to act as advocate for someone or something
… a tradition of advocating for the equality and civil rights of all people …Fred Kuhr
advocation noun
advocative adjective
Its mission is now more advocative—to represent business interests on local, state and national issues that affect the Southland. Nancy Yoshihara
advocator noun

Did you know?

Benjamin Franklin Wasn't a Fan of Advocate

Benjamin Franklin may have been a great innovator in science and politics, but on the subject of advocate, he was against change. In 1789, he wrote a letter to his compatriot Noah Webster complaining about a "new word": the verb advocate. Like others of his day, Franklin knew advocate primarily as a noun meaning "one who pleads the cause of another," and he urged Webster to condemn the verb's use. In truth, the verb wasn't as new as Franklin assumed (etymologists have traced it back as far as 1599), though it was apparently surging in popularity in his day. Webster evidently did not heed Franklin's plea. His famous 1828 dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language, entered both the noun and the verb senses of advocate.

Choose the Right Synonym for advocate

support, uphold, advocate, back, champion mean to favor actively one that meets opposition.

support is least explicit about the nature of the assistance given.

supports waterfront development

uphold implies extended support given to something attacked.

upheld the legitimacy of the military action

advocate stresses urging or pleading.

advocated prison reform

back suggests supporting by lending assistance to one failing or falling.

refusing to back the call for sanctions

champion suggests publicly defending one unjustly attacked or too weak to advocate his or her own cause.

championed the rights of children

Example Sentences

Noun … two of nanotechnology's biggest advocates square off on a fundamental question that will dramatically affect the future development of this field. K. Eric Drexler et al., Chemical & Engineering News, 1 Dec. 2003 Ms. Hart was familiar with local medical-review policies from her work as a patient advocate. Laurie McGinley, Wall Street Journal, 16 Sept. 2003 a passionate advocate of civil rights She works as a consumer advocate. Verb … it makes sense to commence with … a good medium-weight Chardonnay for the wine aficionados. I advocate one with a little oak and lots of fruit … Anthony Dias Blue, Bon Appétit, November 1997 He advocated the creation of a public promenade along the sea, with arbors and little green tables for the consumption of beer … Henry James, The American, 1877 He advocates traditional teaching methods. The plan is advocated by the president. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Gee is active in the community, working as an advocate for illnesses by serving on the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky Board, as well as nonprofits throughout the city. Rae Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 17 Jan. 2023 Since sharing her diagnosis, Blair has grown more comfortable in her role as an advocate for accessibility. Emma Carmichael, SELF, 10 Jan. 2023 Off the court, Navratilova has become well-known as an advocate for gay rights after coming out in 1981. Nicholas Reimann, Forbes, 2 Jan. 2023 Journalists on deadline turned to him for quotes about work as an advocate, lawmakers took credit for introducing bills to reform the system, and Alahverdian was always willing to talk on the record. Globe Staff,, 28 Dec. 2022 Stanke played the violin in the talent portion of Thursday’s finals, answered on-stage questions, walked the runway in an evening gown and emphasized her career goals as an advocate for nuclear power. Mary Colurso |, al, 15 Dec. 2022 Though trained as a mental health counselor, and having served as an advocate for patients with metastatic breast cancer, Mayer has largely devoted herself to tending her father’s legacy. Robin Pogrebin, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2022 Ifeoma Ozoma’s path as an advocate for tech workers started with a series of tweets onemorning in June 2020. Faith Karimi, CNN, 6 Dec. 2022 That power grew directly from her white supremacist politics and calls to violence, which will always overshadow her memory as an advocate for women’s rights. Laura Mallonee, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Nov. 2022
For example, not every developer working on the project needs to be present, but at least one person present should be able to speak to and advocate for the development team’s needs. Yec, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023 The role was created in 2004 through legislation to bring attention to and advocate for North Korean human rights issues. Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2023 The Wildlife Fund aims to protect and advocate for the world's most vulnerable animals and wildlife, while the sanctuary would become a permanent and safe home for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 23 Jan. 2023 Not take sides in board elections or recalls, and not assist or advocate for or against any candidate. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Jan. 2023 There are organizations, like ReFED working to understand, quantify, and advocate for change. Matt Rogers, Fortune, 18 Jan. 2023 Proceeds help the Hemophilia Foundation educate, support and advocate for the Wisconsin bleeding disorders community. Elaine Rewolinski, Journal Sentinel, 17 Jan. 2023 The Epidemic of Stolen Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2Spirits, opened on Jan. 12, was curated by the Institute for American Indian Studies to honor and advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous people across the United States. Gina Grillo, Chicago Tribune, 16 Jan. 2023 Jackson is a nationally renowned physician, leader, scholar, educator and advocate for eliminating healthcare disparities among minority populations. cleveland, 13 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'advocate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English avocat, advocat, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin advocātus, noun derivative from past participle of advocāre "to summon, call to one's aid," from ad- ad- + vocāre "to call" — more at vocation


derivative of advocate entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1599, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of advocate was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near advocate

Cite this Entry

“Advocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-kət How to pronounce advocate (audio)
: a person who argues for the cause of another especially in a court of law
: a person who argues for, recommends, or supports a cause or policy


2 of 2 verb
ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-ˌkāt How to pronounce advocate (audio)
advocated; advocating
: to speak in favor of : argue for

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-kət, -ˌkāt How to pronounce advocate (audio)
: a person (as a lawyer) who works and argues in support of another's cause especially in court
: a person or group that defends or maintains a cause or proposal
a consumer advocate


2 of 2 verb
ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-ˌkāt How to pronounce advocate (audio)
advocated; advocating

transitive verb

: to argue in favor of

intransitive verb

: to act as an advocate
shall advocate for minority businessV. M. Rivera

History and Etymology for advocate


Latin advocatus adviser to a party in a lawsuit, counselor, from past participle of advocare to summon, employ as counsel, from ad to + vocare to call

More from Merriam-Webster on advocate

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