test the water

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Also found in: Acronyms.

test the water(s)

To informally or casually attempt to gauge the reaction of a potential audience or recipient of something, or to try to get an idea of what something will be like before actually doing it. Likened to feeling the temperature of water before getting in. I want to test the water before I make the proposal at the general meeting. Do you think you can float the idea to the boss and gauge his reaction? You better test the waters before you fully commit to that plan.
See also: test

test the water

or

test the waters

COMMON
1. If you test the water or test the waters, you try to find out people's opinions about an idea or plan before putting that idea or plan into practice. I was a bit sceptical and decided to test the water before committing the complete management team. It's hard to make a comment until we test the water at the party conference.
2. If you test the water or test the waters, you try something in order to see if you like it or it is suitable. This placement period in a company can provide an excellent opportunity to test the waters without long-term commitment. Test the water. Rent a motor caravan for a few days and see how you like it before buying one of your own.
See also: test, water

test the water

judge people's feelings or opinions before taking further action.
See also: test, water

test the ˈwater/ˈwaters

try to find out whether something is likely to succeed, by asking people for their opinions before you do something: Your idea might not be popular with people, so before you start marketing it you should test the waters.
See also: test, water
References in periodicals archive ?
Concerned about pollutants flowing into the ocean from storm drains, county health officials have reinstated a program to routinely test the waters and warn beachgoers of disease-causing bacteria.
Bringing on contingent workers on a 'try-before-you-buy' basis is a no-risk way for companies and temporary employees to test the waters.
We just decided to kind of test the waters and see if someone is interested in acquiring the building and leasing it back so we can maintain our presence here.
Once a job is offered, test the waters - such as in a ``temp-to-perm'' position - to make sure the employer will be a good match.
TSI's mobile data field trial is a way to test the waters and see how content can be managed to derive revenue.
Since a follow-up is not due until November, the Chicago alt-rockers test the waters with this new four-song EP (DGC).
We believe that customers will gain the confidence to let more employees work remotely if they are first given the opportunity to test the waters.
Simpson will head to Great Britain next week seeking to improve an overseas reputation made almost entirely from his murder trial - and not his football and movie careers - and to test the waters for possible commercial endorsements.
Juan Villaveces, director of Business Development added, "We made our first showing in Canada at Comdex to test the waters and were received very well by Canadians.
Key benefits include rapid time to market, and a minimal up front investment for firms that want to test the waters before committing to a larger solution.
For example, most business executives know what they need to test the waters, weigh the outcomes and make bankable decisions.