devil's advocate

noun (1)

Definition of devil's advocate

 (Entry 1 of 20)

1 : a Roman Catholic official whose duty is to examine critically the evidence on which a demand for beatification or canonization rests
2 : a person who champions the less accepted cause for the sake of argument

devil's claw

noun (2)

Definition of devil's claw (Entry 2 of 20)

: any of several herbs (genus Proboscidea synonym Martynia of the family Martyniaceae) of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico that have edible pods yielding a black sewing material used in basket making

devil's club

noun (3)

Definition of devil's club (Entry 3 of 20)

: a spiny western North American shrub (Oplopanax horridus) of the ginseng family having large lobed leaves and stems covered with dense sharp prickles

devil's darning needle

noun (4)

Definition of devil's darning needle (Entry 4 of 20)

devil's food cake

noun (5)

Definition of devil's food cake (Entry 5 of 20)

: a rich chocolate cake

devil's paintbrush

noun (6)

Definition of devil's paintbrush (Entry 6 of 20)

: orange hawkweed broadly : any of various hawkweeds that are naturalized weeds in the eastern U.S.

Devil's Island

geographical name
\ ˌēl-dᵫ-ˈdyäblᵊ How to pronounce Devil's Island (audio) \
variants: or French Île du Diable

Definition of Devil's Island (Entry 7 of 20)

island of French Guiana in the Safety Islands group

Note: Devil's Island was formerly the site of a penal colony.

devil's-apple

noun (7)
plural devil's apples

Definition of devil's-apple (Entry 8 of 20)

devil's-apron

noun (8)
plural devil's-aprons

Definition of devil's-apron (Entry 9 of 20)

: a kelp of the genus Laminaria (especially L. saccharina of the Atlantic ocean) having a large flat leathery thallus shaped somewhat like an apron

devil's bit

noun (9)

Definition of devil's bit (Entry 10 of 20)

: any of various plants with premorse rootstocks:
a or less commonly devil's bit scabious : scabious sense 1 especially : a common purple or white flowered scabious (Scabiosa succisa or Succisa pratensis) that is native to Europe but naturalized in eastern North America and that yields a blue dye from the leaves — compare woad
b : any of several New World blazing stars (such as Chamaelirium luteum, Liatris spicata, or Aletris farinosa) — compare button snakeroot, colicroot

devil's-bite

noun (10)
plural devil's-bites

Definition of devil's-bite (Entry 11 of 20)

: american hellebore

devil's-bones

plural noun

Definition of devil's-bones (Entry 12 of 20)

1 slang : dice
2  singular or plural in construction : a wild yam (Dioscorea paniculata)

devil's book

noun (11)

Definition of devil's book (Entry 13 of 20)

devil's buckie

noun (12)

Definition of devil's buckie (Entry 14 of 20)

devil's coachhorse

noun (13)

Definition of devil's coachhorse (Entry 15 of 20)

chiefly British
: any of several rove beetles

devil's corkscrew

noun (14)

Definition of devil's corkscrew (Entry 16 of 20)

: any of certain large spiral fossils from Nebraska previously reported as fossil plants or animals but now usually regarded as sediment-filled burrows of extinct rodents, possibly beavers

devil's-cotton

noun (15)
plural devil's-cottons

Definition of devil's-cotton (Entry 17 of 20)

: a shrub or small tree (Abroma augusta) of the East Indies that yields fiber used for cordage

devil's dozen

noun (16)

Definition of devil's dozen (Entry 18 of 20)

dialectal

devil's dung

noun (17)

Definition of devil's dung (Entry 19 of 20)

Devil's Dyke

noun (18)

Definition of Devil's Dyke (Entry 20 of 20)

: any of several prehistoric British earthworks

Illustration of devil's advocate

Illustration of devil's claw

Noun (2)

devil's claw: 1 flower and leaf, 2 dried seed pod

In the meaning defined above

Examples of devil's advocate in a Sentence

Noun (1)

Teachers often play devil's advocate to provoke discussion in the classroom.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The controversy — whether gender dysphoria is permanent or ephemeral — has occasionally made its way into the UCSF clinic, with clinical psychologist Erica Anderson — herself a transgender woman — sometimes playing devil's advocate. Sara Solovitch, Washington Post, "When kids come in saying they are transgender (or no gender), these doctors try to help," 6 Mar. 2018 Yet making a case for Bagley isn't necessarily playing devil's advocate. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Wooden Watch Top 10: Can Marvin Bagley III beat out Trae Young for Player of Year?," 1 Feb. 2018 To play devil's advocate, this is a brief snippet from what looked like an hours-long party. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "This Video of Khloé Kardashian Ignoring Tristan Thompson at True's Birthday Is So Awkward," 15 Apr. 2019 To play devil's advocate, this is par for the course for a teen drama like Riverdale. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "I Love You, Riverdale, But What the Hell Is Going On?," 27 Mar. 2019 The controversy — whether gender dysphoria is permanent or ephemeral — has occasionally made its way into the UCSF clinic, with clinical psychologist Erica Anderson — herself a transgender woman — sometimes playing devil's advocate. Sara Solovitch, Washington Post, "When kids come in saying they are transgender (or no gender), these doctors try to help," 6 Mar. 2018 Yet making a case for Bagley isn't necessarily playing devil's advocate. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Wooden Watch Top 10: Can Marvin Bagley III beat out Trae Young for Player of Year?," 1 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

My first encounter with devil's claw (Proboscidea louisianica) was with the late Jim Story, a retired Navy vet who lived and gardened in Pendleton, Indi. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star, "The Hoosier Gardener: Wild and crazy annuals for the summer garden," 27 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The story tells of how devil's club resulted from the conflict, and despite its thorny reputation with Alaskans, serves to remind readers that the plant has had medicinal uses among the Tlingit for countless generations. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Baby Raven Reads’ series of Alaska children’s books are a treasure worth sharing," 28 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of devil's advocate

Noun (1)

1771, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1876, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

circa 1883, in the meaning defined above

Noun (4)

1809, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (5)

1892, in the meaning defined above

Noun (6)

1891, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for devil's advocate

Noun (1)

translation of New Latin advocatus diaboli

Noun (9)

Middle English develesbite (translation of Medieval Latin morsus diaboli), from develes (genitive of devel devil) + bite, bitt bit, bite

Noun (17)

translation of German teufelsdreck

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about devil's advocate

Dictionary Entries near devil's advocate

device

deviceful

devil

devil's advocate

devil's-apple

devil's-apron

devil's bit

Statistics for devil's advocate

Last Updated

24 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for devil's advocate

The first known use of devil's advocate was in 1771

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for devil's advocate

devil's advocate

noun

English Language Learners Definition of devil's advocate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who expresses an opinion that disagrees with others so that there will be an interesting discussion about some issue

devil's food cake

noun

English Language Learners Definition of devil's food cake (Entry 2 of 2)

US : a sweet chocolate cake

More from Merriam-Webster on devil's advocate

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about devil's advocate

Comments on devil's advocate

What made you want to look up devil's advocate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a haphazard or makeshift solution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!