trial balloon


Definition of trial balloon

: a project or scheme tentatively announced in order to test public opinion

Examples of trial balloon in a Sentence

She's been floating trial balloons about a possible run for Congress.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Pac-12 recently floated a trial balloon in regard to 9 a.m. football kickoffs., "Oregon State football, basketball, baseball, Reser Stadium updates and more: a Q-and-A with athletic director Scott Barnes:," 7 Aug. 2019 Lawmakers have floated trial balloons in an attempt to find the right combination of changes that will translate into a winning majority, but consensus remains out of reach. Christopher Keating,, "As the summer wears on, legislators and Gov. Lamont are still searching for a compromise on tolls," 21 July 2019 While the driving ban was lifted by official decree, news of the guardianship change was leaked as a trial balloon—first to the Saudi newspaper Okaz and then to foreign outlets. The Economist, "Saudi Arabia weighs loosening more controls on women," 18 July 2019 Their remarks appeared to be a trial balloon to test how much opposition a formal nomination would face. Ernesto Londoño, New York Times, "Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S.," 12 July 2019 But at the regents’ midsummer meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, university officials will float a trial balloon to see what the governing board thinks. Nanette Asimov,, "University of California looks at changing how it raises tuition — and who’d get the higher bills," 17 July 2019 The Present: Intelligence officials say the 2016 attack was a trial balloon—a way for hackers to assess lingering holes in state voting systems waiting to be ripped open. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "If the 2018 Election Is Hacked, This Is How It Will Happen," 5 Nov. 2018 Given that logic, the best approach might be to ignore Trump’s trial balloon (so stop reading!). Aziz Huq, Vox, "The faulty legal logic behind Trump’s birthright citizenship proposal.," 31 Oct. 2018 Despite recent trial balloons from Gulf Cooperation Council regimes and talk of normalization, 87 percent of Arab respondents still disapprove of their home countries recognizing Israel. Dana El Kurd, Washington Post, "On Israel’s 70th anniversary, what does the region think?," 15 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of trial balloon

1935, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about trial balloon

Statistics for trial balloon

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trial balloon

The first known use of trial balloon was in 1935

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for trial balloon

trial balloon


English Language Learners Definition of trial balloon

: something that you do or say in order to find out what people think about an idea, plan, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on trial balloon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trial balloon

Comments on trial balloon

What made you want to look up trial balloon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!