The mysterious JBR wrote today: “My biggest fight with committee people that I am involved with is the use of the word ‘advocate.’ One advocates a position, not for or against it. Yet one can be an advocate for or against something. I even hear lawyers, who should know better, misuse the word.”
An advocate for or against something? I don’t know what an ‘advocate against something’ would be. An advocate by definition is someone who publicly supports someone or something. How can you support not supporting something? That would be opposing it.
I would say, ‘She is an advocate of clean air’. Neither ‘for’ nor ‘against’ goes with ‘advocate’ the noun or the verb. If you are against it, you oppose it.
Admittedly, we hear ‘advocate for’ and ‘advocate against’ enough that we are becoming comfortable with these phrases—too comfortable, in fact. Let’s get back in contact with the meaning of this word.