The Devil’s Advocate

Meanings of “The Devil’s Advocate”

The phrase “the devil’s advocate” means a person who goes against the consensual argument or a person who takes the opposite direction against the majority when arguing a case. They might do so just to be perverse.

 Origin of “The Devil’s Advocate”

 The phrase “the devil’s advocate” seems to have emerged during the 18th century after its Latin equivalent ‘advocatus diaboli’ came into use. However, some records show that it was in use as back as in the 15th century, though, its first cited use has been detected in Impostors Detected written by several authors. It was published in 1760. The phrase in the book goes thus; “By rising up and playing the true part of the devil’s advocate.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

The Devil’s Advocate by Bailey Logan

Being the Devil’s Advocate
is a tricky role to play,
a cast member to the side
the man wearing a crooked toupee’

To go against society
is anybody’s right
so long as they understand
that the mob expects a fight

And so the temerity of man
is clouded with some doubt
so rings the fateful bell-
the fighter is knocked out

The poem states that if a person shows his shrewdness in playing the devil’s advocate, he must see that his crookedness must not surpass all the boundaries. It is because in that case, he may have to face the mob on the other side of the fence and get knocked out. The phrase has been beautifully rendered into a metaphorical allegory.

Example #2

The Devil’s Advocate by Robert R. Railey

At times, he can be as argumentative and stubborn as an Arkansas mule and he’s always looking for a good fight; but the problem is, he almost never gets the facts straight
And even when he’s faced with indisputable evidence to the contrary, he simply retreats from his previous stance but then states that he still believes that his arguments are saner than most
Though as a rule, his views on a variety of topics aren’t even close to being factual, and that’s probably why he prefers to call them parables; but as he’s prone to say, even if his beliefs can’t be proved to be accurate they should still be accepted as gospel.

This beautiful narrative poem presents a person who argues his case contrary to other people’s views but never accepts that he is against them. However, whenever he faces any resistance, he states that he is stating parables as if his arguments are like gospel, and are still valid even though they are contrary. The phrase has been presented as a parable of this person who argues his case.

Example #3

Devil’s Advocate by Jesse James Dupree

Now you look in the stone and advocate
What’s divine that you create in stone
Becomes the devil’s advocate, yeah
As you see

In these four lines, the singer twists the phrase, saying that if the person can look into the stone, which is a non-living thing but still advocate for it, then what he creates from his own mind makes him the devil’s advocate. The phrase has been used as a metaphor for lies.

Example #4

Devil’s Advocate: The Untold Story by Karan Thapar

The famous interviewer has given details of his most popular and top-rated interviews with the world’s best and famous personalities, stating their follies and quibbles. Not only he narrates the aerobatics of Sanjay Gandhi, the famous figure from the Indian Gandhi family, but also Pakistani woman prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and the current Indian populist leader, Mr. Narender Modi. The description of such a diverse constellation of the stars shows that he has played the devil’s advocate with them to make his interviews a success. The meanings of the phrase become clear that it is a denotation.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “‘Why are you always proving a devil’s advocate? Carmen asked Elena angrily and stormed out of the room.”

Example #2: “I have seen Tim working in the situations as the devil’s advocate whenever he finds a chance. However, the interesting point about him is his flexibility, for the changes the devil every time he comes across a tough opponent.”

Example #3: “Embarking upon the last journey of his navigation, Akon thought it was better to play the devil’s advocate. However, it wasn’t long before he went back to his old ways.”

Example #4: “After passing through the phase of being the devil’s advocate, he has come to understood the repercussions of doing so.”

Example #5: “Mrs. Eleazar always played the devil’s advocate in her neighborhood. She always supported people who were always on the wrong.”