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devil's advocate

noun
1.
a person who advocates an opposing or unpopular cause for the sake of argument or to expose it to a thorough examination.
2.
Also called promoter of the faith. Roman Catholic Church. an official appointed to present arguments against a proposed beatification or canonization of a beatus.
Origin
1750-1760
1750-60; translation of Neo-Latin advocātus diabolī
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for devil's advocate
  • As much as it pains me to play devil's advocate in this case, the high schoolers don't have any rational people defending them.
  • The writer of this piece must be playing devil's advocate.
  • It is fun to lob an idea out there devil's advocate style and let the good folks here shred it.
  • In the course of the discussion, act as devil's advocate.
  • The best way to describe my supervisor would be to say devil's advocate.
  • Have someone play the devil's advocate to generate objections.
  • It is a time to generate ideas or take the devil's advocate position, offering options and decisions.
British Dictionary definitions for devil's advocate

devil's advocate

noun
1.
a person who advocates an opposing or unpopular view, often for the sake of argument
2.
(RC Church) the official appointed to put the case against the beatification or canonization of a candidate Technical name promotor fidei (prəʊˈməʊtɔː fɪˈdeɪiː)
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for 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
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Idioms and Phrases with 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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for devil's advocate

in the Roman Catholic church, the promoter of the faith, who critically examines the life of and miracles attributed to an individual proposed for beatification or canonization. He is popularly called the devil's advocate because his presentation of facts includes everything unfavourable to the candidate. Pope Leo X, in the early 15th century, seems to have introduced the term, but Sixtus V formally established the office in 1587. The office was abolished when Pope John Paul II revised the canonization procedures in 1979.

Learn more about devil's advocate with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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