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 Last week, House Republicans floated Emmer as a trial balloon to replace McCarthy. Pablo Manríquez, The New Republic, 2 Oct. 2023 Ripple became an important trial balloon for the debate. Byleo Schwartz, Fortune Crypto, 13 July 2023 Bowden’s trial balloon included the end of the American League and the National League. Steve Silverman, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2023 Trump promptly shot down their trial balloon. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, 25 June 2020 Biden's trial balloon of a spending package in the $1.75 trillion to $1.9 trillion range is much, much closer to the $1.5 trillion proposed by Manchin than the $3.5 trillion (or higher) price tag pushed by the likes of Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 21 Oct. 2021 Senate Majority Chuck Schumer and congressional Democrats began the last week of September by floating a trial balloon to see how a national carbon tax would be received by their colleagues as something to add to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. Patrick Gleason, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 Think of it as a trial balloon for a sequel to the follies of four years ago: a cursed laptop, a tranche of controversial emails that are apparently still giving off heat, and an altered path for the nation—except this time, the old adage about farce following tragedy seems to apply. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 14 Oct. 2020 On one hand, this Politico story may owe its entire existence to the Biden camp’s desire to launch a half-baked trial balloon gauging the reactions of elites on the issue of pulling John Kasich and Meg Whitman from the storm-gutter of irrelevance. Libby Watson, The New Republic, 21 Oct. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trial balloon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trial balloon was in 1826

Dictionary Entries Near trial balloon

Cite this Entry

“Trial balloon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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