Devil’s Advocate Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

You’ve likely heard of a devil’s advocate, but do you know what it is? This guide will tell you everything about the meaning of devil’s advocate.

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You’ve probably heard someone say devil’s advocate before, but do you know what it means? 

Don’t worry, many people aren’t too sure of the definition of devil’s advocate when they hear it in class, but we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the term devil’s advocate, including its meaning, origin, and more. 

By the end of this post, you should have a clear understanding of what devil’s advocate means and even feel comfortable using the term in a sentence. Are you ready? 

Let’s dive in!  

What Is the Definition of Devil’s Advocate?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a devil’s advocate is a person who supports an opposing argument. They chose this for the sole purpose of making others think more deeply about a topic, even if they do not agree with the argument itself. 

Friends of yours who like to champion the less accepted cause for the mere sake of argument tend to play the devil’s advocate. Looking deeper, “Devil’s Advocate” has a few slight variations to its meaning. Below we have included a list of other well-known meanings:

  • An individual that presents a counterargument
  • Without actually being committed to the views, a person who argues just for the sake of arguing
  • Someone who disagrees with others solely for the sake of having a discussion on the issue
  • A person who fakes that they are against a plan or idea that the crowd agrees with for the sole purpose of getting others to discuss the topic and view it from their peer’s point of view
  • An individual who puts forward arguments against a proposition, this person does this simply to test the validity of the proposition, the whole time actually agreeing with it

What Are Synonyms and Antonyms of “Devil’s Advocate?”

If you are looking to avoid repeating yourself or perhaps just looking for a way to expand your English language vocabulary, synonyms and antonyms are an amazing place to look. 

Firstly, what are synonyms and antonyms? 

When a word can be used in place of the original or if they have a similar definition as the original, these words are called synonyms. Alternatively, when they are the opposite of the original word, they are referred to as antonyms. 

While there are a few words we can use instead of the term devil’s advocate, there is only one known antonym: an angel’s advocate. This would be someone who sees the validity in an argument and chooses to support it.

Below you will find a list of synonyms for the devil’s advocate:

  • Apologist
  • Polemicist
  • Sophist
  • Pleader
  • Mediator
  • Defender

How Can Devil’s Advocate Be Used in a Sentence?

The noun “devil’s advocate” can be used in a few ways in English. By using these new words in a sentence, we hope to further cement their definitions into our minds. You can also quiz yourself or make flashcards to better memorize their definition.

Below are many example sentences of the proper usage of devil’s advocate:

I am going to play devil’s advocate here so that we can cover all possibilities that may arise, even if I do agree with what you have to say.

She was the true MVP of the brainstorming session; she offered to play devil’s advocate and argue against our case; in doing so, we were able to see the flaws on our side.

Our professor clearly enjoyed playing the devil’s advocate with all of us, students. In doing so, he is always able to get us to engage in interesting conversations and see others’ points of view.

Margaret, please stop being argumentative; I am sick of you playing devil’s advocate with every word I say.

One sure-fire way to ensure you anticipate problems before they occur is by playing devil’s advocate to every detail.

What Is the Origin of “Devil’s Advocate?”

Te noun devil’s advocate is defined as “on who advocates for the contrary side.” Its first noted use was in 1760, translated from the Latin advocatus diaboli.

In Roman Catholicism, namely within the Roman Catholic Church, devil’s advocate used to refer to a former office. This individual was also referred to as the Promoter of the Faith, which itself derives from the Latin promotor fidei.

It seems that Pope Leo X may have introduced the term in the early 15th century. However, it was not until 1587, when Pope Sixtus V formally established office, that the term became widely known.

The Roman Catholic official’s duty was to critically examine the evidence for canonization or beatification of an individual. They were called this due to their presentation of facts, including those less favorable. 

This was all done in an attempt to uncover any misrepresentations or character flaws of their life of heroic sanctity.

While still a role in the Roman Catholic Church to date, the role was significantly reduced in 1983 by Pope John Paul II. 

Afterward, the promotor fidei now holds very little sway over the proceedings after the pope revised the proposed canonization procedures with Divini Perfectionis Magister.


At the end of the day, if you are talking about either the role appointed by the Roman Catholic Church or perhaps “playing the Devil’s Advocate,” chances are you like to argue for the simple sake of argument. 


  1. Angel’s advocate| The Free Dictionary 
  2. DEVIL’S ADVOCATE | definition in | Cambridge English Dictionary
  3. The meaning and origin of the expression: The devil’s advocate | Phrases