sounding board


Definition of sounding board

1a : a structure behind or over a pulpit, rostrum, or platform to give distinctness and sonority to sound
b : a device or agency that helps propagate opinions or utterances
c : a person or group on whom one tries out an idea or opinion as a means of evaluating it

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The Literal Origins of Sounding Board

Beginning during the Renaissance, a flat wooden canopy called a sounding board was placed over church pulpits, amplifying the sound of the preacher's voice, carrying it to the farthest reaches of the church. Similarly, ideas can be spread by a figurative sounding board. A publication, for example, can be a sounding board for propaganda. That's one modern sense of the word. But when sound bounces off a literal sounding board, not only does it reach more people, it also comes across more clearly. Likewise, bouncing ideas off another person can lend clarity to one's thought processes. If someone comes to you and says "How does this sound?" and leaves with his or her mind made up (whether or not you've ventured a word), you have served as a very effective sounding board.

Examples of sounding board in a Sentence

My friend is my sounding board for new ideas.
Recent Examples on the Web The nonprofit concert hall also served as a hub for relief efforts and as a sounding board for young community members. Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune, "The year in Minnesota music: best albums and most trying moments," 24 Dec. 2020 Many had seen her as a model owner: providing financial support, knowledgeable about the game and a sounding board. New York Times, "Kelly Loeffler, a Wall Street Senator With a Hardscrabble Pitch," 21 Dec. 2020 Gabriel Byrne won't be the soothing sounding board for patients' angst anymore. Bill Carter For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "TV viewers are craving comfort food. 2021 will deliver," 16 Dec. 2020 Coons said Biden’s son was a sounding board for him, someone who helped him assess others’ character. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, "In picking a team, Biden has been guided by memories of his late son," 16 Dec. 2020 The meetup has been a sounding board, a time to share creative or family pursuits. Bob Timmons, Star Tribune, "Brighter horizons for men of color meeting outdoors," 5 Dec. 2020 Sarah Churchill, like the others, saw to her father’s comfort, but was also a sounding board for his ideas. Jennifer Day,, "Gift guide: Shopping for book lovers? Chicago booksellers have you covered.," 17 Nov. 2020 That guy is an unbelievable sounding board, unbiased, unswayed, doesn’t hear the noise. Ira Winderman,, "Miami Heat still ‘feel the fire’ when it comes to mentor’s NBA draft evaluation," 8 Nov. 2020 Bringing Kaepernick in as a mentor and sounding board for Murray early in his career could provide as much value to the team as anything else. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Colin Kaepernick NFL team odds: Arizona Cardinals listed among possibilities," 17 June 2020

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

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First Known Use of sounding board

1729, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for sounding board

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The first known use of sounding board was in 1729

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Last Updated

28 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sounding board.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sounding board

sounding board


English Language Learners Definition of sounding board

: a person or group with whom you discuss ideas to see if the ideas are good

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