play devil's advocate

play (the) devil's advocate

To argue against or attack an idea, argument, or proposition—even if one is in favor of it—for the sake of debate or to further examine its strength, validity, or details. Refers to the "Advocatus Diaboli," a person employed by the Catholic Church to argue against the canonization of a saint (and therefore help determine if that person is truly worthy of sainthood). I'm all for universal health care, but I'll play devil's advocate in asking how the government intends to fund such a massive undertaking. Tom is always playing devil's advocate in any given conversation because he loves picking apart other people's arguments.
See also: advocate, play

play (the) devil's advocate

Fig. to put forward arguments against or objections to a proposition-which one may actually agree with-purely to test the validity of the proposition. (The devil's advocate opposes the canonization of a saint in order to prove that the grounds for canonization are sound.) I agree with your plan. I'm just playing the devil's advocate so you'll know what the opposition will say. Mary offered to play devil's advocate and argue against our case so that we would find out any flaws in it.
See also: advocate, play

play devil's advocate

COMMON If you play devil's advocate in a discussion, you pretend to disagree with what someone says in order to make the discussion interesting or to make people think hard about an issue. My motive for playing devil's advocate is to provoke them into thinking about what we mean when we say something is `genetic'. Note: People also use devil's advocate to describe someone who acts in this way. Interviewers may take on the role of devil's advocate simply to see how effectively you can support your idea in the face of opposition.
See also: advocate, play

play devil's advocate

take a side in an argument that is the opposite of what you really want or think.
A translation of the Latin phrase advocatus diaboli , devil's advocate is the popular name for the official in the Roman Catholic Church who puts the case against a candidate for canonization or beatification; he is more properly known as promotor fidei ‘promoter of the faith’.
1994 Jude Deveraux The Invitation She had played devil's advocate with herself a thousand times.
See also: advocate, play
References in periodicals archive ?
I hope to see my fellow legislators ask searching questions and play devil's advocate -- especially given the length of extension reportedly intended, i.
It's a dangerous game to play devil's advocate but the truth of Celtic's dream season is tempered by the fact they're in a league of their own.
FOUR days out from the All-Ireland final, and I'm going to play devil's advocate on the issue of Dublin's favouritism.
When I play devil's advocate and ask, "How many of those people would be ready to take that seat, and have their own replacements ready, if the worst happened tomorrow?
Whenever there is a discussion about problems with quarry neighbors, worker complaints or the constraints of regulation, someone in the group needs to play devil's advocate and articulate contrary opinions.
While judges often play devil's advocate during oral arguments, the panel's often-blistering questions for the defenders of the same-sex marriage bans could be a signal the laws may be in trouble -- at least at this step in the legal process.
And, when you do, don't expect them to play devil's advocate.
But let's play devil's advocate for a moment and see if we can't cast a flicker of reasonable doubt.
I will play devil's advocate and say Harry and Hermione really should have been the ones who fell in love in the series.
When you play devil's advocate, you can see shortcomings and come up with solutions that preempt objections.
Just to play devil's advocate for a moment I suppose I should put forward the thesis that while it would appear that companies with significant female board representation appear to have outperformed, it does not necessarily follow that the two facts are linked and there may be other factors at play.
It's important that you weigh all evidence equally and that you seek advice from people you trust to help you think through the decision process and play devil's advocate.
Now hear me out as I play devil's advocate for a second.
I'm going to play devil's advocate and suggest that a heartwarming email to staff about a teen turned on to reading, or a summary of a big/new/innovative program included in the board of trustees report, doesn't automatically guarantee more resources or political capital for teen services.