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An utter failure and/or something that causes displeasure. Often heard in the phrase "go over like a lead balloon." A: "How do you think everyone will react to the lack of bonuses this year?" B: "Oh, that news will go over like a lead balloon!" I thought I'd finally had a breakthrough with my latest invention, but it turned out to be a lead balloon, like all the others.
go down like a lead balloon
To become an utter failure and/or something that causes displeasure. A: "How do you think everyone will react to the lack of bonuses this year?" B: "Oh, that news will go down like a lead balloon!"
the balloon goes up
The situation becomes serious, critical, chaotic, or troublesome. Often used in the past tense ("the balloon went up"). If we don't get that shipment by Friday, the balloon goes up, and we lose the account. He tweeted it, and the balloon went up.
1. To visit some place. I'm going over to Eddie's house, mom—see you later!
2. To review something. Can you go over these instructions again? I'm still a little confused.
3. To generate a particular reaction. Unfortunately, our proposal did not go over well with the board, and I doubt they'll approve it.
4. To look at someone or something thoroughly. We need to go over every inch of this house to find my engagement ring!
5. To rehearse or practice something. We need to go over our lines before we take the stage.
float a trial balloon
To suggest something in order to get feedback on it. The phrase alludes to the now outdated use of balloons to get information about the weather. When everyone objected to my idea, I reassured them that I was just floating a trial balloon and had not made any sort of decision on the matter.
when the balloon goes up
When the situation becomes serious, critical, chaotic, or troublesome. Our analysts have been predicting a market crash for months now. If we don't get diversify our assets soon, we're going to be in serious trouble when the balloon goes up. My parents' relationship has been on the rocks for years. I just hope I'm out of the house when the balloon goes up.
before the balloon goes up
Before the situation becomes serious, critical, chaotic, or troublesome. Our analysts have been predicting a market crash for months now. If we don't get diversify our assets soon before the balloon goes up, we're going to be in serious trouble. My parents' relationship has been on the rocks for years. I just hope I'm out of the house before the balloon goes up.
Euph. to leave one's country and go to ideologically opposed or enemy country; to defect. When the ballet company visited New York, two of the dancers went over. He had been spying for the Americans for many years, and he finally went over.
go over like a lead balloon
Fig. to fail completely; to go over badly. Your joke went over like a lead balloon. If that play was supposed to be a comedy, it went over like a lead balloon. Her suggestion went over like a lead balloon.
go over someone or something
to examine someone or something. The doctor will go over you very carefully, I'm sure. I went over the papers and found nothing wrong.
go over something (with someone)
to review or explain something. The teacher went over the lesson with the class. Can you please go over it again, more slowly?
go over (to some place)
to travel some distance or cross water to get to some place. We went over to Cedar Point and spent the day having fun. John went over to the other side of the stadium for the rest of the tournament.
go over (well)
[for someone or something] to be accepted or well received. The party went over very well. The play really went over with the audience.
send someone or something up
1. Lit. to order someone to go upward to a higher level; to arrange for something to be taken upward to a higher level. I'll send up Gary. They are hungry on the tenth floor. Let's send some sandwiches up.
2. Fig. to parody or ridicule someone or something. Comedians love to send the president or some other famous person up. The comedian sent up the vice president.
send someone up
Fig. to mock or ridicule, particularly by imitation. Last week, he sent the prime minister up. In his act, he sends up famous people.
send up a trial balloon
to suggest something and see how people respond to it; to test public opinion. Mary had an excellent idea, but when we sent up a trial balloon, the response was very negative. Don't start the whole project without sending up a trial balloon.
a test of someone's or the public's reaction. It was just a trial balloon, and it didn't work. The trial balloon was a great success.
balloon goes up, the
The undertaking begins, as in He's going to announce his candidacy for mayor-the balloon goes up on Monday. This expression comes from World War I, when British artillery sent up a balloon to notify gunners to open fire, this visual signal being more reliable than courier or telephone. It was soon transferred to signal other kinds of beginning. 
1. Examine, review. For example, They went over the contract with great care, or I think we should go over the whole business again. This term originated in the late 1500s, then meaning "consider in sequence."
2. Gain acceptance or approval, succeed, as in I hope the play goes over. This term is sometimes elaborated to go over big or go over with a bang for a big success, and go over like a lead balloon for a dismal failure. [Early 1900s]
3. Rehearse, as in Let's go over these lines one more time. [Second half of 1700s]
1. Put in prison, as in He'll be sent up for at least ten years. [Mid-1800s]
2. Cause to rise, as in The emissions sent up by that factory are clearly poisonous. [Late 1500s]
3. Satirize, make a parody of, as in This playwright has a genius for sending up suburban life. [First half of 1900s]
4. send up a trial balloon. See 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 balloon goes upmainly BRITISH
If the balloon goes up, something happens that causes a situation suddenly to become very serious. On the Saturday the balloon went up. Henry said he would be going out and not returning until the Sunday afternoon. Sara told him to take all his things and not to return at all. On the line was his solicitor warning that the balloon was about to go up. Note: In the First World War, balloons were used both to protect targets from air attacks, and to observe the enemy. The fact that a balloon had gone up therefore indicated that trouble was coming.
go down like a lead balloon
If something goes down like a lead balloon, people do not like it at all. Note: Lead is a very heavy metal. A senior source said the memo had gone down like a lead balloon. His transfer from Brentford football club went down like a lead balloon with fans. Note: You can call something that is unsuccessful or unpopular a a lead balloon. Truman knew that this cause was a lead balloon at the UN.
float a trial balloonmainly AMERICAN
COMMON If someone floats a trial balloon they suggest an idea or plan in order to see what people think about it. The administration has not officially released any details of the president's economic plan, although numerous trial balloons have been floated. Note: Other verbs can be used instead of float. Weeks ago, the Tories were flying a trial balloon about banning teacher strikes. Note: You can call an idea or suggestion that is made to test public opinion a trial balloon. The idea is nothing more than a trial balloon at this point. Note: Balloons were formerly used to find out about weather conditions.
when (or before) the balloon goes upwhen (or before) the action or trouble starts. informal
The balloon alluded to is probably one released to mark the start of an event.
1959 Punch The international rules of war are apt to be waived when the balloon goes up.
go down (or over) like a lead balloon(especially of a speech, proposal, or joke) fail; be a flop. informal
1996 Prospect Simon Jenkins's book, Accountable to None , has gone down like a lead balloon with most Conservative reviewers.
when the balˈloon goes up(informal) when the trouble or important event begins: I don’t want to be there when the balloon goes up.
go ˌdown like a lead balˈloon(informal) be very unsuccessful; not be accepted by people: As you can imagine, the new proposals went down like a lead balloon, so we’ll have to think again. OPPOSITE: go down a bomb
Lead is a heavy soft grey metal (symbol = Pb).
1. To go to a place: Let's go over to the store and buy a snack. My friend was feeling lonely, so I went over and cheered him up.
2. To examine or review something: We'll go over last week's lesson before we start a new one.
3. To search something thoroughly: I went over my entire room, but I couldn't find my wallet.
4. To perform an action on the entire surface of something: The table still looked dusty, so I went over it with a damp cloth.
5. To gain acceptance or garner a reaction or opinions: The new movie went over superbly. I think your criticism went over well.
6. go over with To gain acceptance or garner a reaction or opinions from someone: We weren't sure if our play would go over with the critics. Our comments went over badly with the press.
1. To send someone to jail: They sent the crook up for ten years. The cops busted the gang and sent up the leader.
2. To make a parody of someone or something: The comedian sends up contemporary culture. I'm not afraid to send myself up to make people laugh.
n. the anus (From its appearance.) Yeeeouch! Right in the balloon knot!
n. a woman’s breasts, especially large ones. (Usually objectionable.) What fine balloons on Jim’s girl!
See also: balloon
go over like a lead balloon
in. [for something meant to be good] to fail to be good. (see also go over big.) I’m afraid your plan went over like a lead balloon.
n. a test of someone’s reaction. It was just a trial balloon, and it didn’t work.