from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. One who argues against a cause or position, not as a committed opponent but simply for the sake of argument or to determine the validity of the cause or position.
- n. Roman Catholic Church An official appointed to present arguments against a proposed canonization or beatification.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. One who debates from a view which he or she may not actually hold, usually to determine its validity or simply for the sake of argument.
- n. A canon lawyer appointed by the Church to argue against the canonization of the proposed candidate.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. someone who takes the worse side just for the sake of argument
Translation of Medieval Latin advocātus diabolī, one arguing for the devil's plea against canonizing a saint : Latin advocātus, advocate + Late Latin diabolī, genitive of diabolus, devil.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
devil + 's + advocate, a calque of Latin advocātus diabolī ("the devil’s advocate"). (Wiktionary)
Such habits are not wholly incompatible with wisdom or generosity, and the devil's advocate would not advance them against their possessor's canonization; none the less, in everyday life they make against your enjoying a chat with their possessor: