devil's advocate


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

Example Sentences

Teachers often play devil's advocate to provoke discussion in the classroom.
Recent Examples on the Web Who plays the, who plays the role of devil's advocate on that committee hearing? REP. NBC News, 12 June 2022 Kavanaugh, for his part, gave a list of prominent cases in which the court overturned precedent (though oral arguments can at times be misleading, and intended to play devil's advocate). Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 1 Dec. 2021 Because something's gotta give, and championing this book doesn't require anyone to play devil's advocate. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 11 Nov. 2021 Having a culture that is constantly playing devil's advocate can disarm the casual disagreements and feel like an organic response as opposed to a clash. Expert Panel, Forbes, 13 May 2021 But just to play devil's advocate, is any part of Kate jealous of the ease with which Rebecca mothers and supports Madison in the bridal shop? Maureen Lee Lenker,, 12 May 2021 Fortunately, recent technology advancements provide the tools midmarket finance leaders need to serve as an effective best devil's advocate. Forbes, 5 Mar. 2021 Still, the devil's advocate argument: Riley has yet to develop a high school prospect of his own, with Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts all arriving via the transfer route. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2020 Lawyers, for instance, might indulge in grandstanding while justices, who often pose devil's advocate–style questions, might be more reticent to speak for fear a video clip would be used out of context. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, 22 Mar. 2020 See More

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.

Word History


translation of New Latin advocatus diaboli

First Known Use

1771, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near devil's advocate

Cite this Entry

“Devil's advocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

devil's advocate


: a Roman Catholic official whose duty is to point out faults in the evidence when someone is proposed for sainthood
: a person who supports the less accepted or approved cause for the sake of argument

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