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devil's advocate

Definitions

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

Etymologies

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)

Examples

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