Dictionary.com

trial balloon

Save This Word!

noun
a statement, program, or the like issued publicly as a means of determining reactions in advance: The speech was a trial balloon for a new law.
QUIZ
TAKE JOY IN ACING THIS QUIZ ON “PRIDE” SYNONYMS
Hold your head up high as you embark on this quiz that explores some of the synonyms and meanings of “pride.”
Question 1 of 7
What does "dignity" mean?

Origin of trial balloon

First recorded in 1930–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use trial balloon in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for trial balloon

trial balloon

noun
a tentative action or statement designed to test public opinion on a controversial matterCompare ballon d'essai
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for trial balloon

trial balloon

A small campaign or test designed to gauge public response. The term originally referred to a balloon sent up to determine weather conditions: “The speech on free trade that the candidate delivered last month must have been a trial balloon; the audience reacted with hostility, and he has not mentioned the subject since.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with trial balloon

trial balloon

An idea or plan advanced tentatively to test public reaction, as in Let's send up a trial balloon for this new program before we commit ourselves. This expression alludes to sending up balloons to test weather conditions. [c. 1930]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
FEEDBACK