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 two still serve as sounding boards to one another, Mr. Lee says, on a variety of topics. Chip Cutter, WSJ, "A Law-Firm Veteran Who Leads by Listening," 22 June 2019 All those voices have the potential to be a sounding board for a fashion industry that’s in constant damage control over cultural missteps. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Fashion needs more powerful black voices — so Ethan Miller created a new way to help," 5 Sep. 2019 The first and most important stop, advocates for the elderly say, is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, a nonprofit that seeks to help families in long-term care by providing a sounding board and resource center. John Caniglia,, "How to find the best fit in assisted living," 23 June 2019 An act of kindness, a gesture of friendliness or just being a sounding board for someone will change the way others view you as well as bring you personal satisfaction. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, "Horoscopes: July 6, 2019," 6 July 2019 This could be by sharing information or being a sounding board for them at times or just being grateful for the relationship. Liz Bentley, Marie Claire, "How to Find a Mentor at Work According to a Career Coach," 4 June 2019 Her father, Daryl Schiff, led the group, while her mother worked the sound board. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "8 Fascinating Things About 'America's Got Talent' Guest Judge Martina McBride," 31 July 2018 Friendly and eager to act the sounding board for new ideas, Trout is always happy when people stop in to talk cooking — or even a little frontier history. Griffin Jackson,, "Have global tastes but want a hometown feel? Consider Lincoln Square living," 24 Aug. 2017 The point was to encourage each other, be a sounding board, and try to pick new skills by doing the exercises and watching the instructional videos provided by Lean In. Katherine Goldstein, Vox, "I was a Sheryl Sandberg superfan. Then her “Lean In” advice failed me.," 6 Dec. 2018

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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Last Updated

26 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for sounding board

The first known use of sounding board was in 1729

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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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