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

For most women, your money mentor should be your sounding board for new jobs and salary. Latoya Peterson, Teen Vogue, "What's A Money Mentor, and Do You Need One?," 7 Aug. 2018 Singer Theo Bleckmann — one of the evening’s three vocalists — stood before Owens’ jazz quartet and alongside a sound board jammed with knobs, dials and levers. Howard Reich,, "'Songs of Freedom' digs into bracing music of the 1960s," 7 Apr. 2018 Buford referred to Lathrop as the area’s best sounding board for ideas — utilizing him most often when things weren’t going particularly well. Sam Mellinger And Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Bud Lathrop, Ray South coaching legend and ‘One of the richest men in Raytown,’ dies at 82," 12 July 2018 Which is serving on a board, being a sounding board for CEOs. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Khosla Ventures’ newest partner worries for too-young CEOs when they have too-appeasing venture capitalists," 17 June 2018 Though not a White House official, Hannity has been an informal adviser and sounding board for Mr. Trump, according to The New York Times and other reports. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "One Way to Get a White House Visit? Have Sean Hannity’s Son on Your Team," 14 June 2018 Bogdanovic became a sounding board for ideas, and the two built a strong bond. Jason Jones, sacbee, "Kings Q&A: Hield could be poised for a big leap. Is Cauley-Stein on the trade block? | The Sacramento Bee," 14 Apr. 2018 The post-Hicks era is a vast unknown for aides, who worry Trump will unravel without the near-constant presence of his sounding board and interpreter. Kevin Liptak, CNN, "Trump being told he doesn't need a communications director or chief of staff," 29 Mar. 2018 Wright began using Calhoun as a sounding board on recruiting, coaching, building. Dom Amore,, "Jim Calhoun Brings Results, And A New Normal To St. Joe's Once-Quiet Campus," 16 May 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

21 Nov 2018

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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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