devil's advocate


Definition of devil's advocate 

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

Examples of devil's advocate in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

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

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.

First Known Use of devil's advocate

1771, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devil's advocate

translation of New Latin advocatus diaboli

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

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devil's advocate


English Language Learners Definition of devil's advocate

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

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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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