spy out the land

spy out the land

To find out about or come to understand a particular state of affairs or the way a situation exists or has developed, especially before taking any decisive or definitive action. Given the turbulent nature of this market, I think it would be prudent for us to spy out the land before we agree to invest in your company. I'm just spying out the land regarding my parents' divorce before I make any solid plans to come visit them this Christmas.
See also: land, out, spy

ˌspy out the ˈland

find out about a situation, a place, an organization, etc. before you make a decision: The manager is sending Mark to Iceland to spy out the land. He wants to know whether we can do business there.
See also: land, out, spy
References in classic literature ?
So our game surely is to lie low for a time and spy out the land.
In the Bible we read that Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies (Genesis 42:9); Moses is told, "Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan .
Currently we are reading the episode of the twelve spies who were sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan before the children of Israel were to enter.
When the Israelites arrived at the border of Canaan in their flight from Egypt, Joshua was one of the twelve sent in to spy out the land.