The word 'contrarian' means taking the position of minority or against the popular version. In some questions (or in their answers rather), this word is also described as attempting to appear intelligent or refined by taking an unpopular opinion?

I am looking for a word, if exists, a 'contrarian' who isn't contradicting an opinion (possibly popular) for the sake of opposition but for bringing things in perspective by being objectively neutral in position.

Can someone suggest such a word?

  • The first source for these kinds of questions is a thesaurus which should give synonyms with varying connotations. But in the lists I've seen, I didn't see the first thing that came to my mind which was skeptic. However, that is not as neutral as you desire. It may be there is no word that is neutral.
    – Mitch
    Apr 29, 2015 at 12:29

5 Answers 5


When opposing parties contend, with extravagant, dogmatic claims on both sides, one who finds the middle ground, not agreeing with either position, is sometimes called a voice of reason. In regard to his detachment from the argument, he is said to be above the fray. If he refutes extravagant unsubstantiated claims with plain facts, he could be called a debunker. A good example of objective debunking is the http://www.snopes.com site.

  • Debunker is closest to what I have been thinking about. Apr 29, 2015 at 6:35
  • 3
    Undubstatiated meaning George W doesn't agree? Apr 29, 2015 at 6:42
  • Touché. You cannot misunderestimate my typing ability. Apr 29, 2015 at 9:29

While not the single word you're looking for, you're describing a Devil's advocate.

someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position they do not necessarily agree with (or simply an alternative position from the accepted norm), for the sake of debate or to explore the thought further.

  • A devil's advocate might be someone who is forced into being a contrarian to highlight the darker side of stuff. So this is not what I am referring to. Apr 29, 2015 at 6:34
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    @Dipan: If you think being a devil's advocate implies highlighting the "darker" side of an issue because of the literal meaning of "devil", I have to say I disagree. It's an idiom, and very few native speakers who are actually familiar with it would normally consider that original literal sense at all. It just means exactly what erich has cited above, nothing more. Apr 29, 2015 at 11:42
  • I agree, Devil's advocate doesn't have to be necessarily mean "BAD". However, this is explicitly taken up (designated) position. So someone decides to be play "lawyer" of one side before coming to conclusion that it is necessarily correct side or not. I wanted a term that would rather depict an "unbiased" view. Apr 30, 2015 at 3:22

Oxford Dictionaries (online) lists the 'contrarian' sense for critic first:

critic: noun

1A person who expresses an unfavourable opinion of something

(Usually of a person, a performance, a manufactured article, a piece of work ... hence contrary to what some others want to hear.) Most other dictionaries [eg AHDEL below] give as the primary sense that of a balanced assessment and the communication of such (admittedly including praise where considered due; the word carries the 'fault-finding' connotation at least, though, from the other sense, if not as strongly as 'criticism' does):

critic n.

  1. One who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter.

A proposer may suggest a more neutral connotation:

  • someone who advances a suggestion or proposal.

(the Free Dictrionary)


If the process of discussing and proposing the opposing views is a debate - I.e.:

1 A discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.

2 A formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.


Then the derived form, to indicate someone who participates in the debate by proposing and discussing opposing positions is a "debater".

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