play (the) devil's advocate(redirected from to play the 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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
play devil's advocatetake 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.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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