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 ?
You can love, encourage, listen, play Devil's Advocate, offer ideas, do a few extra chores, even underwrite the whole thing financially, if you're able and willing ("support" can have two meanings here, and you don't specify which), but you can't be the one who:
After refusing to be shushed down, the Brexiters in the group asked me to play devil's advocate and think of something good that might come about after we leave the EU in 82 - count 'em - days time.
But let's play devil's advocate here: Does all this Trump chaos matter for the economy, or for the stock market (which isn't at all the same thing)?
Two, appoint one or two individuals to attend cabinet meetings specifically to play devil's advocate in every policy conversation in military terms, 'red team' it.
Let me play devil's advocate here, and ask the question: what will their squad look like if they lose Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Willian?
Finally, I'd quickly like to play devil's advocate. Although I am fully converted to a telehealth-believer, I wonder if virtual care visits almost encourage patients to (knowingly or unknowingly) not reveal symptoms (like a suspicious looking mole) that would otherwise be obviously seen in an in-person examination.
Play Devil's Advocate: Our gut is always going to offer its opinion.
Saying 'Let me play devil's advocate' is the surest way to cut creative thinking off at the knees because it sets a negative tone." Fundamentals of Library Supervision is a "must-read" for anyone working their way toward a managerial career in library science, and an excellent "refresher course" for professionals in the field.
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?" most execs have to admit that they do not know.
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.