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 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 There should be a devil's advocate who is arguing against the granting of the application. Fox News, 31 July 2018 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, 6 Mar. 2018 Yet making a case for Bagley isn't necessarily playing devil's advocate. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, 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.

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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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Cite this Entry

“Devil's advocate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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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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