devil's advocate


noun

a person who advocates an opposing or unpopular cause for the sake of argument or to expose it to a thorough examination.
Also called promoter of the faith. Roman Catholic Church. an official appointed to present arguments against a proposed beatification or canonization of a beatus.

Nearby words

  1. devil of a,
  2. devil ray,
  3. devil take the hindmost, the,
  4. devil to pay, the,
  5. devil tree,
  6. devil's bit,
  7. devil's club,
  8. devil's coach-horse,
  9. devil's darning needle,
  10. devil's dung

Origin of devil's advocate

1750–60; translation of New Latin advocātus diabolī

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for devil's advocate

devil's advocate

noun

a person who advocates an opposing or unpopular view, often for the sake of argument
RC Church the official appointed to put the case against the beatification or canonization of a candidateTechnical name: promotor fidei (prəʊˈməʊtɔː fɪˈdeɪiː)

Word Origin for devil's advocate

translation of New Latin advocātus diabolī

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for devil's advocate

devil's advocate

n.

1760, translating Latin advocatus diaboli, one whose job it is to urge against the canonization of a candidate for sainthood. "[F]ar from being the whitewasher of the wicked, the [devil's advocate] is the blackener of the good." [Fowler]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with devil's advocate

devil's advocate

One who argues against a cause or position either for the sake of argument or to help determine its validity. For example, My role in the campaign is to play devil's advocate to each new policy before it's introduced to the public. This term comes from the Roman Catholic Church, where advocatus diaboli (Latin for “devil's advocate”) signifies an official who is appointed to present arguments against a proposed canonization or beatification. It was transferred to wider use in the mid-1700s.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.