What Does "Devil's Advocate" mean? How To Use It In Writing? (2023)

Being the "devil's advocate" is a position that some people like to play in conversations. This phrase is well known in some films in which it has been seen how one person opposes another to have a discussion and contradict the other.

Playing "devil's advocate" is to oppose or disagree with others' opinions on an issue, only to extend or make a discussion more interesting. People use it to express an opinion although they might not agree with it themselves, just to be different from the point of view of the majority.

Being the devil's advocate is considered a skill that is used to generate debates with other people. This skill must be used correctly, It means that it should only be used to generate debates and discussions of interesting topics. Like any other skill, it should be developed and implemented as a strategy to get people hooked and passionate about the topic they are arguing about.

What Does "Devil's Advocate" mean? How To Use It In Writing? (1)

What Is The Origin Of This Phrase?

The devil's advocate (Advocatus Diaboli in Latin) is a phrase that originated in Rome by the Catholic Church in the 1500s. But do not think that a person within the clergy was in charge of defending Satan or anything like that. The most correct term and the one used by members of the clergy is "Promoter of Fidei" or Promoter of Faith. This was a position that was generally held by a clergyman with a doctorate in Canon Law.

What Was The Role Of The "Promoter of Faith"?

The "Promoter of faith" was considered as a prosecutor within the church and was in charge of refuting the evidence in those of beatification or canonization before John Paul II. Those processes take longer and were much more complicated than the current ones. The burden of proof was essential when raising to altars the saints and "blesseds", both male and female.

The main task of these clergy prosecutors was to question the testimonies, the supposed miracles and to investigate the witnesses of these. All this to leave no doubt about the statements about the saint, and even in his or her most insignificant worldly aspect.

How Can The Phrase Be Used In Writing?

This phrase can be used in writing to generate controversy and debates on interesting topics. Playing the lawyer in a scientific article or academic paper is a way of calling more people to be interested in the subject.

In everyday life, the phrase can be used to comment on social networks regarding issues of all kinds, from politics to issues related to entertainment. But not to generate problems, but in a respectful way, each one presents their arguments.

Examples Of How To Use The Phrase "Devil's Advocate" In A Sentence

This phrase can be used in the following cases of daily life:

  1. Some teachers play devil's advocate to spark discussion in their classes.
  2. I don't want to be the devil's advocate this time, but I'd like to argue with you.
  3. Playing devil's advocate can get you in trouble with others.
  4. You can't always agree with the opinions of others, which is why I like to play devil's advocate.
  5. Being the devil's advocate in my work has brought me trouble with my colleagues.
  6. Playing the devil's advocate with my family has caused them to distance themselves from me.
  7. I don't want to agree with you, I want to be the devil's advocate.
  8. It's so much fun playing devil's advocate with my friends.
  9. For being against everyone, now they call me the devil's advocate.
  10. I become the devil's advocate when I want to argue with someone about an issue.
  11. Don't play devil's advocate with people who have more arguments than you.
  12. She is playing devil's advocate to piss me off.
  13. This person wrote an inappropriate comment because he wants to create controversy by playing the devil's advocate.
  14. If you become the devil's advocate in this situation, you can get in a lot of trouble with the law. So never lie to be right.
  15. You don't look like being the devil's advocate if you don't have solid arguments.
  16. Why do you defend him and pretend to be the devil's advocate?
  17. He is arguing from something he does not agree to be the devil's advocate in this debate.
  18. Don't give me the reason to play devil's advocate.
  19. More than once I disagreed with my teacher to be the devil's advocate in my classroom.
  20. I am the devil's advocate in this discussion.

What Does "Devil's Advocate" mean? How To Use It In Writing? (2)

Synonyms Of "Devil's Advocate"

Some synonyms that are used to refer to the phrase "devil's advocate" are:

  • Arguer. Example: Juan is a professional arguer because he likes to contradict everyone.
  • Defender. Example: She is a defender of animals.
  • Mediator. Example: My mother always acts as a mediator in my siblings' fights.
  • Polemicist. Example: My friend is very polemicist on social networks, he likes to make inappropriate comments.
  • Apologist. Example: There are believers who are very apologists because they like to defend their faith.

It is difficult to find antonyms for this phrase, but we can say that the opposite of playing the devil's advocate would be to agree with everything others say and never be contrary. And if a person always agrees with everyone, it is because he does not like to argue. Most likely this is because they want to avoid being involved in a debate or getting into a controversy with someone.

What Made The Phrase Even More Popular And Used By People?

The phrase was made quite famous by the American movie of the same name. The film was presented on the big screen in 1997 and the protagonists were Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. Keanu plays the main role of a successful lawyer named Kevin Lomax, who unknowingly ends up working for the devil himself, that is, Al Pacino who plays the owner of a large law firm that hires Kevin after winning a very difficult case.

So, what is the relationship between the phrase and the movie, apart from being the title of the movie? The movie's plot, written by scriptwriters Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy, is a great example of what the phrase the devil's advocate means. The lawyer Lomax had to defend a person who was at fault for a homicide, and Lomax already knew it, but in order not to lose his streak of not losing a case, he went ahead with it.

Are There People Who Like To Play Devil's Advocate To Annoy Others?

Of course, there are people of this type. For that reason, it must be identified when a person opposes you to annoy you or because they really want to seriously argue about a topic. You cannot fall into the game of the type of person who makes negative comments or with arguments very opposite to what is socially correct. An example of this is when a person says offensive things about homosexuals, going so far as to discriminate against them and speaking of them as if they were not people who have the same rights as everyone else.

Also on the subject of religion, you see a lot of these controversial people. Who think that by having a different faith or by the simple fact of not believing in the same deities as others, they have the right to express opinions and offend others.

There are issues that should not be touched and less on social networks. Like religion and the subject of certain groups of people, they are the subject of ridicule and offensive comments, which are the subject of debate. Those people who do not seek to argue civilly on a topic, but seek to annoy others and start cyber fights, must be identified, they must be reported.

What Does "Devil's Advocate" mean? How To Use It In Writing? (3)

Conclusion

It is interesting to learn the use of these types of expressions in our day-to-day lives. We must make them part of our vocabulary and use them in the correct cases. That is why it is important to learn how and when to use it.

Now, this phrase is not only important for its connotation and meaning but also its origin.

It is also important to note that a person who plays the role of the devil's advocate does not always do so to argue and debate a topic of interest, but also to seek a fight and controversy with others. That is why it is necessary to identify it and tread carefully around this sort of individual, since normally they seek out to make people uncomfortable rather than reaching truth and veracity which is the original purpose of being such a person in an argument.

In conclusion, being or playing devil's advocate is not bad, as long as they do it to have a pleasant conversation with others. Also when writing an article or any other type of writing, they should try not to oppose it without basis or good arguments. Playing devil's advocate is not for people without arguments.

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What Does "Devil's Advocate" mean? How To Use It In Writing? (4)

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

FAQs

How do you use the devil's advocate? ›

If you play devil's advocate in a discussion or debate, you express an opinion which you may not agree with but which is very different from what other people have been saying, in order to make the argument more interesting.

What is another way to say playing the devil's advocate? ›

I would use words like "dissenter," or even "critic." These are functions performed by the "devil's advocate." I think "dissenter" and "critic" usually mean that they argue against something because they disagree.

How do you say devil's advocate? ›

Now to practice the pronunciation of the phrase. Let's repeat it three times dev ills add veau kit

Why do people use devil's advocate? ›

Playing “devil's advocate” might be a way for men to reintroduce what they think is logic or “objectivity” into a discussion, even if it sounds ridiculous and isn't necessarily the case.

What does Devil's advocate mean in a sentence? ›

someone who pretends, in an argument or discussion, to be against an idea or plan that a lot of people support, in order to make people discuss and consider it in more detail: I don't really believe all that - I was just playing devil's advocate.

Is being a devil's advocate a good thing? ›

Using a devil's advocate isn't simply a watered-down way of generating authentic dissent. In fact, a devil's advocate can generate the very result that it seeks to prevent. Even in studies where the use of a devil's advocate stimulates more arguments, the new arguments tend to support the group's initial position.

What's the opposite of devil's advocate? ›

If arguing "for" but not as a devil's advocate then you would be a proponent.

What is the synonym of argumentative? ›

synonyms for argumentative
  • belligerent.
  • combative.
  • contentious.
  • opinionated.
  • contrary.
  • controversial.
  • disputatious.
  • factious.

What's is the meaning of contentious? ›

Definition of contentious

adjective. tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome: a contentious crew. causing, involving, or characterized by argument or controversy: contentious issues. Law. pertaining to causes between contending or opposing parties.

Is Devil's advocate an idiom? ›

Despite being medieval in origin, this idiomatic expression is one of the most popular present-day English idioms used to express the concept of arguing against something without actually being committed to the contrary view.

What does advocate mean in history? ›

The word stemmed from the French word avocat and before that the Latin word advocatus. Advocatus means to be called to or summoned, or more specifically to come to someone's aid in the courtroom. This could mean the very first public advocacy program in the world involved the beginning of law and lawyers.

Is Devil's advocate capitalized? ›

Usage of the word in that form is most common, and Devil's advocate occurs more frequently than Devil's Advocate. Seems that no capitalization prevails, and the same is true for the Latin term. The phrase trended highly when an eponymous 1997 movie came out.

What is a devil's advocate question? ›

A devil's advocate question is where you ask the jurors a question that exposes a defense argument. For example, say you have an overserving case. A bar overserved a customer, that customer drove drunk, and someone was killed. The defense may say things like: "We didn't force him to drink."

What is the role of a devil's advocate in constructive conflict? ›

Effective devil's advocates can stimulate constructive conflict and debate that helps teams generate more alternatives, surface hidden risks and make better decisions.

What does play the devil mean? ›

Upset, ruin, make a mess of, as in This weather plays the devil with my aching joints, or Wine stains play the devil with a white tablecloth. This allusion to diabolical mischief is heard more in Britain than in America. [Mid-1500s] Also see the synonym play havoc.

What is the role of the devil's advocate quizlet? ›

playing the role of devil's advocate, defends unpopular or opposing alternatives for the sake of argument.

What is the meaning of the idiom a dark horse? ›

a person who is not expected to succeed in or unexpectedly wins an election, race, or other competition: a dark horse in the primaries.

What is a contentious opinion? ›

1 : likely to cause disagreement or argument a contentious issue. 2 : exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes a man of a most contentious nature.

How do you deal with advocates? ›

Talking money with your advocate is an excellent way to judge how he or she treats clients. No matter which type of fee agreed upon between you and your advocate, always obtain proof of the agreement in writing.

Is the devil's advocate a true story? ›

Devil's Advocate tells the epic, stranger-than-fiction tale of self-proclaimed international movie mogul and businessman turned criminal defence lawyer, Giovanni Di Stefano.

What is the opposite of an advocate? ›

Opposite of a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. critic. protestor. opponent. adversary.

What do you call a person that argues about everything? ›

If you love to argue, you're eristic. Being eristic is a fairly common quality for a debater to have.

What do you call a person who is very argumentative? ›

polemical. (also polemic), quarrelsome, scrappy.

What do you call a person who always disagrees? ›

argumentative. adjective. showing disapproval someone who is argumentative often argues or disagrees with people.

What do you call someone that likes to cause problems? ›

troublemaker. noun. someone who causes problems, often by being violent or by making others argue or not obey people in authority.

What do you call a controversial person? ›

disputatious, polemical. (also polemic), quarrelsome, scrappy.

What is contentious relationship? ›

/kənˈten.ʃəs/ causing , involving, or likely to cause disagreement and argument: a contentious decision/policy/issue/subject. She has some very contentious views on education. The director had a contentious relationship with the eccentric actor.

What is a devil's advocate question? ›

A devil's advocate question is where you ask the jurors a question that exposes a defense argument. For example, say you have an overserving case. A bar overserved a customer, that customer drove drunk, and someone was killed. The defense may say things like: "We didn't force him to drink."

What is the role of a devil's advocate in constructive conflict? ›

Effective devil's advocates can stimulate constructive conflict and debate that helps teams generate more alternatives, surface hidden risks and make better decisions.

What's the opposite of devil's advocate? ›

If arguing "for" but not as a devil's advocate then you would be a proponent.

Is Devil's advocate an idiom? ›

Despite being medieval in origin, this idiomatic expression is one of the most popular present-day English idioms used to express the concept of arguing against something without actually being committed to the contrary view.

What is the example of devil? ›

The definition of a devil is someone or something evil, hurtful or wicked. An example of a devil is Satan from the Christian Bible. An example of a devil is a tornado that causes death and wreckage. A person.

How do you deal with advocates? ›

Talking money with your advocate is an excellent way to judge how he or she treats clients. No matter which type of fee agreed upon between you and your advocate, always obtain proof of the agreement in writing.

What does advocate mean in history? ›

The word stemmed from the French word avocat and before that the Latin word advocatus. Advocatus means to be called to or summoned, or more specifically to come to someone's aid in the courtroom. This could mean the very first public advocacy program in the world involved the beginning of law and lawyers.

Why is step 6 of the planning process so important multiple choice question? ›

Why is Step 6 of the planning process so important? It is needed to determine if the selected plan is working.

What does the planning process begin with? ›

The planning process begins with the setting of objectives. Objectives are end results which the management wants to achieve by its operations. Objectives are specific and are measurable in terms of units.

What is the second step in the strategic management process? ›

The Five Stages of the Strategic Management Process
  1. Clarify Your Vision. The purpose of goal-setting is to clarify the vision for your business. ...
  2. Gather and Analyze Information. ...
  3. Formulate a Strategy. ...
  4. Implement Your Strategy. ...
  5. Evaluate and Control.

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