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sound the alarm

1. Literally, to activate an alarm. I think I see smoke coming from the warehouse. Someone run upstairs and sound the alarm!
2. To alert other people about something dangerous, risky, or troublesome. A number of top economic advisors tried to sound the alarm before the economic crash, but no policy makers seemed to heed their warnings.
See also: alarm, sound

sounding board

A person or group with whom one discusses an idea, plan, or suggestion in order to evaluate its strengths, acceptability, feasibility, practicality, etc. My friend John and I really know each other's skills and interests, so whenever one of us has an idea for a new project, we use the other as a sounding board.
See also: board, sounding

take soundings

To ask questions in order to learn people's opinions about a certain topic. I'm taking soundings to find out what people want to read about in the student newspaper.
See also: sounding, take

sound off (about something)

1. To express an opinion, especially a complaint, loudly and intensely. Please don't bring up politics—I don't want my brother sounding off again. She never wastes an opportunity to sound off about the city's sub-par public transportation.
2. To interrupt or speak at an inappropriate time. We can't get through a single meeting without Janet sounding off about whatever we're talking about. If you sound off like that again, I'll have to ask you to leave the class.
See also: off, sound

sound out

1. To slowly and carefully pronounce something, such as a letter, syllable, or word, typically as a means of learning how to say it or spell it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "sound" and "out." She helped her daughter sound out the words in the book. It can be a tricky one to spell because we tend to gloss over the consonants in the middle. Just try sounding it out.
2. To try to ascertain or gauge someone's knowledge or opinion about something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "sound" and "out." We'd better sound out the employees before we implement the new policy. Try to sound Janet out about what we should do in Paris.
3. To produce a noise, typically a loud one, such as an alarm. The siren sounded out, signalling an air raid.
See also: out, sound

sound a false note

To indicate or give the impression that something is wrong, disingenuous, or deceitful. I know she apologized, but it sounded a false note with me—I don't believe she meant what she said.
See also: false, note, sound

sound a (kind of) note

Of speech, to have or communicate a certain kind of tone or attitude. The president sounded an beleaguered note in his address to congress, as he tried to convince them to vote for the healthcare bill he is backing. The manager sounded a rather insincere note as he expressed his sorrow at the round of layoffs.
See also: note, sound

sound someone out

to try to find out what someone thinks (about something). I don't know what Jane thinks about your suggestion, but I'll sound her out. please sound out everyone in your department.
See also: out, sound

sound something out

to pronounce the letters or syllables of a word as a means of figuring out what the word is. (Usually said to a child.) This word is easy, Bobby. Try to sound it out.
See also: out, sound

sound out

Seek the views or intentions of, as in We'd better sound out Mom about who's using the station wagon, or Let's sound out the staff before we decide which week we should close for vacation. This expression derives from sound meaning "to measure the depth of water by lowering a line or lead." It was transferred to other kinds of inquiry in the late 1500s, but out was not added for several centuries.
See also: out, sound

sound out

1. To pronounce something slowly and carefully: The student practiced sounding out the English vowels. I sounded the phrase out until I could say it correctly.
2. To pronounce the letters of some word slowly and in sequence in order to arrive at the pronunciation or meaning of the whole: If you don't know the word, try to sound it out. I tried to sound out the word, but its spelling didn't match its pronunciation.
3. To examine or investigate the opinion or nature of someone or something: The company conducted a survey to sound out public opinion. I tried to sound them out before asking for the favor so that I wouldn't put them in an awkward position.
4. To project a sound: The bell sounded out at midnight.
See also: out, sound
References in periodicals archive ?
Diamond Multimedia and Aureal deliver a great sounding two-channel audio card that delivers high-quality, interactive 3-D audio," said Paul Mudra, director of audio development for Westwood Studios.
We hope to introduce new products with this technology in the future in an attempt to continue our trend of supplying the best sounding equipment available.
The top-of-the-line PARADISE Wavetable, Sound & Radio Card includes all the features of the PARADISE Sound and Radio Card, but adds state-of-the-art wavetable synthesis with 1 MB ROM of sound samples, 128 voices, and 1 drum kit for more realistic sounding multimedia presentations and games.