What does it mean to advocate

Advocate Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

1 of 2

ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-kət -ˌkāt 


: one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal

an advocate of liberal arts education


: one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group

a consumer advocate

an advocate for women's health

He has paid respectful attention to the home schooling movement by meeting with its advocates and endorsing their cause. —Elizabeth Drew


: one who pleads the cause of another

specifically : one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court


2 of 2

ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-ˌkāt 

transitive verb

: to support or argue for (a cause, policy, etc. ) : to plead in favor of

They advocated a return to traditional teaching methods.

a group that advocates vegetarianism

intransitive verb

: to act as advocate for someone or something

… a tradition of advocating for the equality and civil rights of all people …—Fred Kuhr







Its mission is now more advocative—to represent business interests on local, state and national issues that affect the Southland. —Nancy Yoshihara




Did you know?

Benjamin Franklin may have been a great innovator in science and politics, but on the subject of advocate, he was against change. In 1789, he wrote a letter to his compatriot Noah Webster complaining about a "new word": the verb advocate. Like others of his day, Franklin knew advocate primarily as a noun meaning "one who pleads the cause of another," and he urged Webster to condemn the verb's use. In truth, the verb wasn't as new as Franklin assumed (etymologists have traced it back as far as 1599), though it was apparently surging in popularity in his day. Webster evidently did not heed Franklin's plea. His famous 1828 dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language, entered both the noun and the verb senses of advocate.



  • advocator
  • apostle
  • backer
  • booster
  • champion
  • espouser
  • exponent
  • expounder
  • friend
  • gospeler
  • gospeller
  • herald
  • hierophant
  • high priest
  • paladin
  • promoter
  • proponent
  • protagonist
  • supporter
  • true believer
  • tub-thumper
  • white knight


  • back
  • champion
  • endorse
  • indorse
  • patronize
  • plump (for)
  • plunk (for)
  • plonk (for)
  • support

See all Synonyms & Antonyms in Thesaurus 

Example Sentences


… two of nanotechnology's biggest advocates square off on a fundamental question that will dramatically affect the future development of this field. —K. Eric Drexler et al., Chemical & Engineering News, 1 Dec. 2003 Ms. Hart was familiar with local medical-review policies from her work as a patient advocate. —Laurie McGinley, Wall Street Journal, 16 Sept. 2003

a passionate advocate of civil rights She works as a consumer advocate. Verb

… it makes sense to commence with … a good medium-weight Chardonnay for the wine aficionados. I advocate one with a little oak and lots of fruit … —Anthony Dias Blue, Bon Appétit, November 1997 He advocated the creation of a public promenade along the sea, with arbors and little green tables for the consumption of beer … —Henry James, The American, 1877

He advocates traditional teaching methods. The plan is advocated by the president. See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Brinton has been a prominent LGBTQ advocate for more than a decade. —Jo Yurcaba, NBC News, 13 Dec. 2022 Flom is also an influential advocate for criminal justice reform and is a founding board member of the Innocence Project. —Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 9 Dec. 2022 South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has been a prominent advocate for Griner’s return. —Wire Reports, oregonlive, 8 Dec. 2022 Thornton has been a huge advocate for Harrison personally, as well. —Secret Garden, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Dec. 2022 Sunak, a former hedge fund manager, was an early advocate for Britain’s leaving the European Union. —Karla Adam, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2022 Sunak, a former hedge fund manager, was an early advocate for Britain’s leaving the European Union. —Karla Adam, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Nov. 2022 More broadly, Kelly has been a fierce advocate for the vitality of broadcast television while being a steady and respected network leader through the good times as well as turbulent periods. —Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Nov. 2022 The Rufus King neighborhood gets its name from its high school, named after a Civil War general who was a passionate advocate for public education. —Drake Bentley, Journal Sentinel, 16 Nov. 2022

On the campaign trail, Healey made promises to advocate for federal funding for early education and care, to recruit and retain educators of color, to expand early college programs, and to push to improve access to affordable higher education. —Naomi Martin, BostonGlobe.com, 16 Dec. 2022 Lauper has been a notable LGBTQ+ rights advocate for much of her career, having also founded the nonprofit organization True Colors Fund in 2008 to expand education on LGBTQ+ issues and help to end homelessness for LGBTQ+ youth. —Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 13 Dec. 2022 To advocate for her daughter without raising her voice. —Mike Hixenbaugh, NBC News, 13 Dec. 2022 Some preach caution and moderation; others advocate trying just about anything to get bigger. —William Neff, Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2022 In October 2021, Michael’s parents launched the Michael Bryson Foundation to help families solve missing person cases and advocate for those with mental illness. —Dateline Nbc, NBC News, 6 Dec. 2022 But caught in the dragnet were dozens of videos that translate Russian media into English, exposing how pro-Kremlin voices spread conspiracy theories and advocate for genocide. —Jacob Mchangama, Time, 5 Dec. 2022 That sense of duty comes from seeing how many parents are afraid to speak up or advocate for themselves but nonetheless put a lot of their trust in educators, Bass said. —Nicole Chavez, CNN, 3 Dec. 2022 Members pursue projects that address youth homelessness in Brown County and advocate for issues that enhance the quality of life for those youths. —Natalie Eilbert, Journal Sentinel, 1 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'advocate. ' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English avocat, advocat, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin advocātus, noun derivative from past participle of advocāre "to summon, call to one's aid," from ad- ad- + vocāre "to call" — more at vocation


derivative of advocate entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1599, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler

The first known use of advocate was in the 14th century

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“Advocate.Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advocate. Accessed 26 Dec. 2022.

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Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun

ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-kət 



: a person who argues for the cause of another especially in a court of law


: a person who argues for, recommends, or supports a cause or policy


2 of 2 verb

ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-ˌkāt 

: to speak in favor of : argue for

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun

ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-kət, -ˌkāt 


: a person (as a lawyer) who works and argues in support of another's cause especially in court


: a person or group that defends or maintains a cause or proposal

a consumer advocate


2 of 2 verb

ad·​vo·​cate ˈad-və-ˌkāt 

transitive verb

: to argue in favor of

intransitive verb

: to act as an advocate

shall advocate for minority business—V. M. Rivera

History and Etymology for advocate


Latin advocatus adviser to a party in a lawsuit, counselor, from past participle of advocare to summon, employ as counsel, from ad to + vocare to call

More from Merriam-Webster on


Nglish: Translation of advocate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of advocate for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about advocate

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Merriam-Webster unabridged

Advocate Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.

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[ verb ad-vuh-keyt; noun ad-vuh-kit, -keyt ]

/ verb ˈæd vəˌkeɪt; noun ˈæd və kɪt, -ˌkeɪt /

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See synonyms for: advocate / advocated / advocates / advocating on Thesaurus.com

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verb (used with object), ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing.

to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly: He advocated higher salaries for teachers.

verb (used without object), ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing.

to act as an advocate: a father who advocates for his disabled child.


a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of): an advocate of peace.

a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.

a person who pleads the cause of another in a court of law.


3 champion, proponent, backer.

5 lawyer, attorney, counselor, counsel; barrister; solicitor.

See synonyms for advocate on Thesaurus.com



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Origin of advocate

1300–50; <Latin advocātus legal counselor (originally past participle of advocāre to call to one's aid), equivalent to ad-ad- + voc- call (akin to vōxvoice) + -ātus-ate1; replacing Middle English avocat<Middle French


ad·vo·ca·tive, adjectivead·vo·ca·tor, nounnon·ad·vo·cate, nounpre·ad·vo·cate, noun

pre·ad·vo·cate, verb (used with object), pre·ad·vo·cat·ed, pre·ad·vo·cat·ing. re·ad·vo·cate, verb (used with object), re·ad·vo·cat·ed, re·ad·vo·cat·ing.sub·ad·vo·cate, nounun·ad·vo·cat·ed, adjectivewell-ad·vo·cat·ed, adjective

Words nearby advocate

ad vivum, advocaat, advocacy, advocacy journalism, advocacy tank, advocate, Advocate Depute, advocation, advocatory, advocatus diaboli, advowson

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

Words related to advocate

backer, campaigner, defender, lawyer, promoter, proponent, supporter, back, defend, encourage, favor, further, justify, promote, propose, push, recommend, support, tout, uphold

How to use advocate in a sentence

  • Voting-rights advocates said they are concerned with requirements that create more opportunities for voters to make mistakes and potentially make it less likely for their ballot to count.

    Philadelphia election official warns ‘naked ballots’ may invalidate up to 100,000 votes|Michelle Lee|September 25, 2020|Washington Post

  • Of course, for many privacy advocates, surveillance drones capturing people’s every move is a dystopian nightmare.

    Amazon debuted a long list of products today. Here are 3 standouts|jonathanvanian2015|September 24, 2020|Fortune

  • Globally, the commitment has been well received by climate advocates.

    Experts praise China’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060—but more could be done|eamonbarrett|September 24, 2020|Fortune

  • Instead, according to records obtained by ProPublica, the deputy contacted the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, a leading advocate for the discredited argument that American elections are tainted by widespread voting fraud.

    Before Limiting Ballot Drop Boxes to One Per County, Top Ohio Election Officials Secretly Consulted Promoter of Debunked Voting Fraud Fears|by Mike Spies and Jake Pearson|September 24, 2020|ProPublica

  • This is a tremendous opportunity for someone who has the credibility and composure to lead the search community as an educator and an advocate.

    We’re hiring a new content lead for Search Engine Land and SMX|Henry Powderly|September 23, 2020|Search Engine Land

  • I am fighting that quota because I am an advocate of competition.

    Propaganda, Protest, and Poisonous Vipers: The Cinema War in Korea|Rich Goldstein|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • As a well-known advocate for Baluch rights in Iran, young Iranians reach out to him for advice.

    The Dangerous Drug-Funded Secret War Between Iran and Pakistan|Umar Farooq|December 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • He is a true advocate for human rights who has paid a horrible price for standing up against the Assad dictatorship.

    Behind Bars for the Holidays: 11 Political Prisoners We Want to See Free In 2015|Movements.Org|December 25, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Another step is to require a lawyer or advocate present during questioning of people with ID.

    How the U.S. Justice System Screws Prisoners with Disabilities|Elizabeth Picciuto|December 16, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • How, then, are LGBT people to advocate for their rights (civil, human, or otherwise) if they cannot even identify themselves?

    The Straight Hero of Cameroon’s Gays|Jay Michaelson|December 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Few, however, can now be found who do not advocate utilization of the principle to a greater or less degree in every organ.

    The Recent Revolution in Organ Building|George Laing Miller

  • Alexis Normand, advocate of the parliament of Paris, died; justly celebrated for his love of justice.

    The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell

  • The day before her trial, her advocate, Chauveau de la Garde, visited her to consult respecting her defense.

    Madame Roland, Makers of History|John S. C. Abbott

  • Philip Livingston, a signer and a strenuous advocate for the declaration of independence, died.

    The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell

  • He was the advocate of experimental rather than theoretical systems of medicine, and early adopted the practice of inoculation.

    The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell

British Dictionary definitions for advocate


verb (ˈædvəˌkeɪt)

(tr; may take a clause as object) to support or recommend publicly; plead for or speak in favour of

noun (ˈædvəkɪt, -ˌkeɪt)

a person who upholds or defends a cause; supporter

a person who intercedes on behalf of another

a person who pleads his client's cause in a court of lawSee also barrister, solicitor, counsellor

Scots law the usual word for barrister

Derived forms of advocate

advocatory, adjective

Word Origin for advocate

C14: via Old French from Latin advocātus legal witness, advocate, from advocāre to call as witness, from vocāre to call

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

State your demands: how to defend personal boundaries at work

As soon as we arrive at the office, we discover that someone has taken important papers from our desk or entered our mail ... Evening. It’s a child’s birthday, and suddenly they call from work: urgently check the mail - there are documents from partners, prepare an agreement! .. We are working on the project with enthusiasm, when we suddenly find out that it has already been assigned to another ... and then he even throws papers in our faces ...

Sound familiar? Similar situations happen every day in thousands of companies. What do we feel about it? Depending on the temperament, the reaction is different, but in any case, we lose our mental balance. And the more often we are exposed to such stress, the less strength, energy, motivation we have, the greater the exhaustion, and not only emotional, but also physical.

We are afraid to fight back

What happened in each of these cases? This is nothing but aggression: the boss (or colleague) aggressively violated our personal boundaries, and we did not put up “border posts” in time. At work, aggression is shown the more often, the higher its level in society. (And in our country it is now high, as you can see by turning on the TV.) In addition, in our culture it is not very customary to defend our borders and respect others. nine0003

It is especially difficult for us to decide to declare our boundaries at work. After all, the stakes are high here. We are afraid of being seen as uncomfortable workers, hindering our career growth, missing out on a bonus, or even losing our job. And someone else is flattered to feel irreplaceable, necessary. Therefore, we constantly make concessions, turn a blind eye to these painful intrusions ... and as a result, we deplete our resources and begin to unwittingly work worse.

But there is another reason for our compliance: often we do not understand what is happening, what is the reason for emotional discomfort, because we do not think about personal boundaries. Each of us needs to understand: they exist! And keeping them is vital. nine0003

How to protect your borders

Step one. In order to protect our property, we need to understand what we own, to clearly understand our boundaries, first for ourselves: what is the most important thing for me in a relationship and, conversely, what hurts, annoys me, deprives me of psychological comfort? Where am I ready to be flexible, and where will I not back down? The list should not be long: we select only what is important for us.

Step two. It is necessary to clearly state to the boss or colleagues what does not suit us and what kind of treatment we will no longer accept. nine0003

Third step - we consistently adhere to our line and in no case deviate from the declared position.

An iron hand in a velvet glove

It seems to many that expressing one's disagreement by turning to raised tones or even shouting means defending one's own boundaries. In fact, such behavior is the same aggression: by going on the attack, we ourselves violate the boundaries of the interlocutor. For the same reason, it is inappropriate to give him advice: this is also an invasion of his territory. nine0003

Another unfortunate tactic is to act as a beggar. If we are afraid, we feel like a victim, it is better not to even start a conversation. Our attempt is doomed. Fear is perfectly read by others, and our boss is no exception.

There is a chance for success if we come to the leader not as an aggressor and not as a victim, but as an employee, that is, a person ready to cooperate. We do not express our claims, but are looking for ways to improve the quality of work. The principle here is this: when we say “yes” to others, we do not say “no” to ourselves. nine0003

Conversely, when we say “yes” to ourselves, we do not say “no” to others. We respect ourselves and respect the boss. We are interested in him, and he is in us. Therefore, we speak to him calmly and with dignity, firmly making it clear where is the line beyond which we will not retreat. We are an iron hand in a velvet glove.

Start with a yes followed by a but: “I really like my job. But I can’t work all evenings and not rest at all,” and finally, we suggest looking for a common solution: “Let’s think about how we can organize the process differently.” nine0003

Did he force himself to be respected?

Those who have defended their borders are usually said to be able to set themselves up. And this skill does not depend on the position. Of course, it is better to set boundaries as soon as we start a new job. But even after years, the situation can most often be changed. What if we fail? Yes, there are bosses who do not want to listen to anyone.

Well, in some difficult cases it is better to do as Kutuzov: lose Moscow, but save Russia, that is, lose your job, but save your health. nine0003

There is a so-called Gestalt-therapist's prayer, which in its meaning approaches the collisions described above and helps to see their essence.

“I do my thing and you do your thing. I don't live in this world to live up to your expectations. And you don't live in this world to live up to my expectations. You are you. And I am me. And if we happen to meet each other, that's great. And if not, it cannot be helped” 1 . It is worth listening to these words. nine0003

How to set personal boundaries in a work team

September 28, 2021 One on one Relationship

Defend your territory gently but firmly.

Why it is important to uphold personal boundaries in a work team

We spend at least a third of the day at work. And if we take into account the lunch break and possible overtime, it turns out that we see colleagues more often than family. Therefore, a favorable climate in the team is not a luxury, but a condition necessary for our psychological well-being. nine0003

There are many situations that make us feel uncomfortable. Here are just a few examples:

  • Some colleagues outsource some of their work to others to free up their time.
  • The boss constantly asks to stay late or go out on a day off, and such situations are taken for granted.
  • Every now and then conflicts flare up that are not related to work issues, but only force you to waste time and lead to an aggravation of relations. nine0066
  • One of the employees during the conversation comes too close, touches the interlocutor or asks personal questions.
  • Gossip is spread in the team, there is discrimination based on personal qualities. Moreover, it is not necessary to be a victim, the fact itself is enough.
  • Communication uses passive aggression rather than healthy dialogue principles.
  • Colleagues write and call at night for issues that do not require immediate attention.
  • The boss evaluates not the work itself, but the personality of the performer, insults or humiliates subordinates. nine0066

Often people are willing to put up with such inconveniences. The reasons are usually simple and clear. Someone, for example, in principle, does not know how to build boundaries, and someone is afraid that this will damage their career, or even lead to dismissal. This is quite real, especially if the management encourages the absence of a boundary between work and personal, and those who disagree with this state of affairs are pushed to leave in various ways.

So, on the one hand, whether to defend one's borders or not is everyone's personal choice. On the other hand, in the long run, all this will affect your well-being, mood and self-esteem. nine0003

Oleg Ivanov

Psychologist, conflictologist, head of the Center for Settlement of Social Conflicts.

The intrusion of strangers into personal space affects psychological well-being. A person may feel guilty, tired, irritated. Often there is a feeling of loss of control over one's own life, inability to make decisions independently. Therefore, it is important to respect personal boundaries in any relationship, including working ones.

How to assert boundaries with colleagues

Set your priorities

This is the time to start with yourself. Formulate what exactly you mean by the concept of a “favorable climate” in the team and how you would like to see the working relationship. And then decide on what you agree to be flexible and what to close your eyes to, and on what issues you will take a principled position.

There will always be many nuances in life, so it will be burdensome to defend all the approaches to the borders at once. Start with what's most important to you. nine0003

Respect foreign borders

From the point of view of geopolitics, the borders between countries imply that the state not only protects its territory, but also does not invade the lands of its neighbor. The same is true in relationships: if you want your boundaries not to be violated, treat strangers with respect.

Let's say if you don't like answering questions about family or health, don't ask them to others. And if you do not expect to hear a joke about your religious denomination in return, do not joke about the nationality of your colleague. In general, the basic rule applies here: treat others the way you would like to be treated. nine0003 Illustration: Anna Guridova / Lifehacker

Do not participate in conversations on controversial topics

According to the rules of etiquette, politics, religion and health cannot be discussed in secular conversation. It is clear why: these are potentially provocative topics that can easily develop into a scandal with elements of assault. So at work it is better to refrain from discussing them. This also applies to other controversial issues, as well as gossip and rumors.

Svetlana Beloded

QBF Human Resources Manager. nine0003

Let's say you have a conversation about other team members that you don't want to participate in. To begin with, I advise you to simply not support it. If you keep silent one time, another, it will become clear that it is useless to have such conversations with you. You can also politely make it clear that you are not interested in this topic.

Be direct

Sometimes a person breaks into personal space not because the villain wants to hurt you. Perhaps he has other “pain points” and he does not realize that his behavior can cause discomfort to others. Or he himself has problems with boundaries. nine0003

There are many reasons, but your goal is not to save your colleague, but to protect yourself. Therefore, sometimes it is enough to openly talk about the inconveniences that you experience. This is especially true for personal things - for example, if a colleague has a habit of touching everyone or asking about topics that you consider intimate.

Alexander Rykiel

Candidate of Sciences in Psychology, Head of Intergenerational Communication and Conflict Situations at Business Speech. nine0003

In order not to look like a conflict, you can turn everything into a joke or somehow try to say softly, but at the same time taking the “blame” on yourself: “For some reason I don’t like hugs. All normal people love, but I don't. Therefore, you don’t have to hug me - I’m such a person. ”

However, this works if the aggressor acts unconsciously. If tactlessness is manipulation and its meaning is to influence you, then, according to Alexander Rykiel, you can react to it publicly: “For some reason you are trying to put me in a stupid position. Why are you doing this? nine0003

Practice a neutral response

The natural impulse when encountering a border trespasser is to put him in his place. But in the team it is important to defend your rights and not worsen the general climate.

Psychologist Ekaterina Korolkova advises for this to work on neutral intonations and facial expressions, with which you will convey to the interlocutor what you want to say to him. It may not reflect your true emotions, but they are a poor helper when it comes to setting boundaries at work. nine0003

Armed with neutrality, you can respond to incursions into your territory in several ways:

  1. Express your feelings: "I'm sorry, but I feel very uncomfortable when such issues are discussed in my presence. "
  2. Make assumptions about how the other person is feeling. For example, this is how you respond to a tactless remark from a colleague: “It looks like I annoy you today.”
  3. Rephrase what you were told: “Do I understand correctly that you are asking me to solve this problem for you?” nine0066

Ekaterina Korolkova


Neutrality is the key here. The slightest hint of sarcasm can spoil the whole thing.

Learn to say "no"

It is not uncommon to try to pass on your responsibilities to colleagues. And here the folk wisdom works: "Whoever is lucky, they go on that." So the main task is not to put “riders” on your back.

Svetlana Beloded recommends that you tactfully indicate if some issues have nothing to do with you, and their solution is not part of your job responsibilities. This should be said calmly but firmly. nine0003

If you feel that a colleague might be offended by such an answer, list what you are doing now. Make it clear that an additional task will not allow you to complete your work tasks on time.

Illustration: Anna Guridova / Lifehacker

At the same time, it is important to distinguish between when a person is trying to manipulate and when he really needs help. In the end, there are always common tasks. And if somewhere the deadlines for a project that will bring a large amount of money to the company are burning, everyone will smell like smoke. In such a situation, there is definitely a reason to stay late after work or take on atypical duties. nine0003

If a colleague asks you for advice or asks you to teach him something, this can also bring dividends in the future. Therefore, not all appeals for help should be taken with hostility.

Be Consistent

Once you've decided to stand up for your personal boundaries, stick to it. If you constantly change position or it is opaque to others, colleagues will not take it seriously.

Let's say, if today you say that you don't want to discuss others, and tomorrow you report the news to the department that Mikhalych from the third shop has divorced, then it is not very clear what, from your point of view, is acceptable and what is not.

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