devil's advocate, (to play)

devil's advocate, (to play)

To take a position against something that many others support, either for the sake of argument or to examine its validity. The term is a translation of the Latin advocatus diaboli, an official appointed by the Roman Catholic Church to argue against a proposed canonization. By the 1700s it was extended to broader use. R. Buchanan used it in The Heir of Linne (1887), “Even the Socialist party regarded him as a devil’s advocate, and washed their hands of him.” More recently, David Baldacci had it in Hour Game (2004), “‘Didn’t you try your best to convince me he was innocent?’ . . . ‘Just playing devil’s advocate.’”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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