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 If this is a trial balloon from Johnson, it looks designed to be shot down. Washington Post, "Boris Johnson Chooses Provocation Over Progress," 2 Oct. 2019 If Patrick is just floating a trial balloon, here are a few reasons why, with about 90 days until the New Hampshire primary, the balloon won’t float., "The bad news for Patrick: everything else.," 13 Nov. 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of trial balloon

1935, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler

The first known use of trial balloon was in 1935

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Cite this Entry

“Trial balloon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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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.

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trial balloon

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