play devil's advocate

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

to pretend to be against an idea or plan which a lot of people support in order to make people discuss it in more detail and think about it more carefully
Usage notes: The 'Advocatus Diaboli' was a person employed by the Roman Catholic church to argue against someone being made a saint (= someone given the honour of being called Saint by the Roman Catholic church).
I don't think he was really in favour of getting rid of the scheme, he was just playing devil's advocate. I know that most people here support the project, but let me play devil's advocate for a moment and ask if anyone has considered the cost?
See also: advocate, play
References in periodicals archive ?
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 think it is really important to promote debate so sometimes I will play devil's advocate a little bit.
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.
While their negative effects are clear, and that is what economists focus on most of the time, let me play devil's advocate and point to some theoretically possible positive effects.
To find out more 0901 6093145 VIRGO (Aug 24/Sept 23): You always play devil's advocate so why deny that you are trying to be controversial?
Still, let's play devil's advocate to try and understand Nick Clegg.
However, we would like to take this opportunity to respectfully play devil's advocate and suggest that things are not as cheerful as Zatlers' makes out.
Your need to play devil's advocate is not always an asset to your life, and for one that is usually so fair, you are being decidedly awkward.
And if you want a laugh, play devil's advocate like I did with a chap whose back was covered in indigo with a flag of St George.