14

Is there another way or expression to say:

He is the devil's advocate

I don't quite like this expression, and I don't know if it is a good idea to use it in a religious context.

  • 5
    One plays devil's advocate. You could say that someone who is saying something for the sake of argument is just playing devil's advocate. – Jeremy Aug 30 '11 at 15:02
  • Are Satanists offended by this phrase? I've honestly been curious of this. – thomj1332 Jul 15 '17 at 21:25
19

You could say you are doing something for the sake of argument.

But, really, "devil's advocate" is a familiar phrase that few people take exception to. In fact, it's even used by religious people. For example,

During the canonization process of the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin: promotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil's advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli), was a canon lawyer appointed by Church authorities to argue against the canonization of the candidate.

If those religious worthies may use the term, I don't see anything preventing you from doing likewise.

  • 6
    In case this isn't clear, the term "Devil's Advocate" is religious in origin. It was eventually adopted for secular purposes, but it was created for a religious function - namely, the vetting process for sainthood. In fact, it is this religious dimension that gives the term such a rich etymology and meaning - the Advocate is performing due diligence in the service of ultimate good. – The Raven Aug 30 '11 at 14:13
4

I prefer @Robusto's response, but if you're still uncomfortable with the term, consider "opposition", "opposer", or "contrarian".

  • "Contrarian" is too loaded with negative connotations for this purpose, to my mind. (Though that could just be me) – Andy Hunt Aug 31 '11 at 10:45
  • @AndyBursh: I agree that "contrarian" tends to be used in an unflattering way almost all the time--"devil's advocate" can be similarly unflattering. However, it's the only noun form I could think of with the same meaning as the preposition and adverb "contra", which simply means "against" or "opposed to." – oosterwal Aug 31 '11 at 11:23
  • I like "contrarian". I only really know the term from finance, so I'm not familiar with the mentioned negative connotations, but the definition provided at the linked site will fit the requirement quite well in many, though not all, "devil's advocate" cases. – Fletch Jul 2 '14 at 10:33
2

I would use words like "dissenter," or even "critic." These are functions performed by the "devil's advocate."

  • 10
    I think "dissenter" and "critic" usually mean that they argue against something because they disagree. In my experience the "devil's advocate" usually argues against something although he agrees, i.e. he argues it to ensure that it can be defended or to check for weaknesses. – Joachim Sauer Aug 30 '11 at 13:14
0

I would like to propose 2 things to consider: 1. I agree with Joachim Sauer. I always thought that when someone is the "devil's advocate" not necessarily means that he is 100% opposed to whatever is presented to him. 2. As to use it in a religious context, I think it will extremely awkward for a religious leader to use it or to become such. It is best to use an alternative expression: "I will be the final critic" "They have to convince me" Their argument must be very strong" etc. JF

0

To illustrate that you are playing Devil's Advocate, you can also use "for argument's sake" when beginning a contrary view. I am just supplying another way to phrase it if someone is uncomfortable with using the former expression.

  • 2
    Hi Anne; please note the accepted answer to this question (the first one, right below the question itself) offers "For argument's sake" as an alternative. In other words, this is a good, but duplicate, answer. – Dan Bron Sep 18 '14 at 16:16

protected by tchrist Aug 20 '17 at 17:10

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.