Advise, advocate, lobby, conspire

Terms people associate with the intellect are often grounded in the material world of everyday experience: sight, sound, space and breath. Terms that contribute to communicating truths are no exception, as a browse through the ever-accommodating online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) attests — supplemented by excursions into


To advise is to offer an opinion. The word advise derives from the Latin for vision: videre. It pertains to the sense of sight, which is how things appear, i.e. how they seem. The OED says under the entry for seem as a verb:

II. To have a semblance or appearance. … In the present tense, ‘seems’ is often equivalent to ‘seems to me’, which expresses belief in the truth of the appearance predicated. Where the object expressed or implied is not in the first person, or where the verb is in the past tense, there is usually, on the other hand, the notion of mere appearance as opposed to fact.

The opinion aspect of advice-giving is helpful. It absolves the advice-giver from responsibility for the actions carried out by the advice-receiver and the consequences that follow: “I was offering you advice (an opinion), not telling you what to do.”


Advocacy relates to speech, deriving from vocare, which is Latin for to call, or vox, Latin for voice. An advocate is some person or group you may call upon, summon or convoke. Advocates responds to such a call, but they also speak on your behalf. They provide voice (vox) which you are unable or unwilling to provide. See post: The advocate.


A lobby is an architectural space, an entry area prior to the main space. The OED associates it with a lodge, i.e. a hut or house. (See post: Secrets of the lodge.) The use of lobby as a verb is familiar to anyone who follows politics. To lobby is

To frequent the lobby of a legislative assembly for the purpose of influencing members’ votes; to solicit the votes of members.

Lobbying sounds more covert that advocacy. It is outside of publicly available and accountable discourse. It is a whisper rather than a calling out.


Lobbying fits the practice of conspiracy, literally “breathing together,” in close quarters, which you might have to do when communicating together before entering the parliamentary chamber. The OED says of conspire,

Latin conspīrāre lit. ‘to breathe together’, whence, ‘to accord, harmonize, agree, combine or unite in a purpose, plot mischief together secretly.’

See post Whispirators — In praise of whispers.



  • Advocacy also implies mediation, and features in theology: 1 John 2:1 “if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
  • Feature image is the public lobby of the Welsh Assembly, Cardiff, by Richard Rodgers and Ivan Harbour.

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