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1. An informal "test" to determine the trustworthiness or integrity of a person by judging whether one would trust that person to take care of one's children. I don't trust him to take my car across the country; he certainly wouldn't pass the babysitter test.
2. A test to determine if a household appliance is easy and intuitive to use, i.e., whether a babysitter would be able to use it with ease. The new smart television is radically advanced, but it also passes the babysitter test: anyone in the house can learn to use it in just a few minutes!
A form of logical, intuitive reasoning to deduce the nature of an uncertain thing or situation, usually in the absence or in spite of concrete evidence. Adapted from the saying, "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck." You aren't sure whether he likes you? Just use the duck test—if he's showing you all the signs of being interested, then he most likely is.
A hypothetical test meant to measure whether or not some question or thing provokes discernible embarrassment, discomfiture, or displeasure in a person. The old red-face test is a simple but subtle way of telling which employees are the most honest and work the hardest. Well, my proposal didn't pass the red-face test with the boss. I guess we can kiss that idea goodbye.
fail the smell test
To be morally questionable, unacceptable, or untrustworthy. The new pro-drilling bill that's being put through Congress certainly fails the smell test, and many are suspicious that Big Oil has been responsible for its inception.
A hypothetical pass/fail "test" that gauges the moral acceptability or trustworthiness of someone or something. The new pro-drilling bill that's being put through Congress doesn't pass the smell test, and many are suspicious that Big Oil has been responsible for its inception.
survive the test of time
1. To work, function, or endure for a very long time. (A less common variant of "stand/withstand the test of time.") As computer technology improves, it's ironically getting harder and harder to find a piece of equipment that can survive the test of time.
2. To be particularly popular or well regarded for a long period of time. Of all the other cast members, hers was the only career that survived the test of time.
withstand the test of time
1. To work, function, or endure for a very long time. As computer technology improves, it's ironically getting harder and harder to find a piece of equipment that can withstand the test of time.
2. To be particularly popular or well regarded for a long period of time. Of all the other cast members, hers was the only career that withstood the test of time.
bring (one) to the test
To test how skilled or capable one is in a particular area. They sure brought me to the test when I tried out for the golf team, but I must have pleased the coaches because I made it!
1. A chemical test used to determine acidity or alkalinity in a solution. The students performed a litmus test in class to learn whether the chemical solution was an acid or a base.
2. A test used to determine someone's true intentions or beliefs. I used his reaction to my favorite movie as a litmus test to determine if he was worth dating.
Fig. a test whose findings are beyond doubt or dispute. The senator doesn't look too popular just now, but the acid test will be if he gets reelected.
cram for an examinationand cram for a test
Fig. to study very hard for an exam. I have to go cram fora test now. If you would study during the school term, you would not have to cram.
See also: cram
1. Lit. a test used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of chemical substances. (Acid turns litmus paper red and alkaline compounds turn it blue.) I used a litmus test to show that the compound was slightly acid.
2. Fig. a question or experiment that seeks to determine the state of one important factor. His performance on the long exam served as a litmus test to determine whether he would go to college. The amount of white cells in my blood became the litmus test for diagnosing my disease.
put someone or something to the test
Fig. to see what someone or something can achieve. I think I can jump that far, but no one has ever put me to the test. I'm going to put my car to the test right now, and see how fast it will go.
stand the test of time
Prov. to be well regarded; to last for a long time. Bill and Nancy just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Their marriage has stood the test of time. The singer's work was not popular while she was alive, but it has stood the test of time.
test for something
to try to find out about something by testing. We are testing for weak places in your roof. That's the noise you hear up there. They are testing for some sort of infection.
test out (of something)
to score high enough on a placement test that one does not need to take a particular course. I tested out of calculus. I don't know enough Spanish to test out.
test someone in something
to test someone in a particular subject. The committee decided to test her in her knowledge of the laws of the state. We were all tested in math and English.
test someone or something for something
to apply a test to someone or something to try to determine something or identify something. They tested me for all sorts of diseases. Ken tested the roof for weak spots.
test something out
to try something out; to test something to see if it works. I can't wait to test my new laptop out. I will test out the new brakes on the car.
need (to have) your head examined
you have done something that will make others think you stupid or strange Anyone who pays that much for a pair of jeans needs to have her head examined.
Usage notes: usually used as a humorous criticism
pass the smell test
to be morally acceptable Robinson's removal as an independent investigator doesn't pass the smell test, and many believe it was done for political reasons.
Usage notes: often used in negative sentences, as in the example
put somebody/something to the test
to find out how good someone or something is Those icy roads certainly put my driving to the test. An explosion in the subway put police and firefighters to the test.
stand the test of timealso withstand the test of time
to continue to work well over a long period of time Look for software that has stood the test of time, not something new and unproven. So we want it to be a good house, one that's going to stand the test of time.
test the waters
to try something new We are testing the waters to see if online ads increase sales.Related vocabulary: float an idea
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of test the waters (to put your toe into water to see how cold it is)
an acid test
a test which will really prove the value, quality, or truth of something The new show was well received but viewing figures for the next episode will be the real acid test. The acid test for the product will be whether people actually buy it.
a litmus test
something that shows clearly what someone's opinions or intentions are
Usage notes: Litmus is a substance used in chemical tests because it changes colour.His views on abortion are effectively a litmus test of his views on women's rights.
need your head examined/examining(British, American & Australian humorous) also need your head testing (British humorous)
if you tell someone they need their head testing, you think that they are crazy because they have done something stupid or strange You need your head examined if you're willing to spend £120 on a pair of jeans.
stand the test of time
if something stands the test of time, it remains popular or respected for a long time Very little of the drama from this period has stood the test of time.
test the water/waters
to try to discover what people think about an idea before you do anything about it, or to try to discover what a situation is really like before you become very involved in it I mentioned my idea to a couple of friends as a way of testing the water and they were very enthusiastic about it. Perhaps you should go to a couple of meetings to test the waters before you decide whether to join the club.See stand the test of time
tried and tested/trusted(British, American & Australian) also tried and true (American)
used by many people and proved to be effective They ran a highly successful advertising campaign using a tried and tested formula. Most people would prefer to stick to tried and true methods of birth control.
A decisive trial to determine worth or quality, as in Exposure to brilliant sunlight is the acid test for showing this fabric won't fade. Alluding to a 19th-century chemical test for distinguishing gold from other metals, this term was used figuratively by the early 1900s.
put to the test
Try or check out something or someone, as in This tall grass will put our new lawnmower to the test, or Let's put Harry to the test and see if he knows the last 20 World Series winners. [Mid-1600s]
To administer a test to someone or something in order to determine the presence of something: The technician tested the blood sample for leukemia. The doctor tested the children for head lice. This procedure tests for the presence of harmful substances.
1. To test or use something experimentally: Test out your new sleeping bag at home before taking it on a camping trip. I tested my speech out on my friends before delivering it at the meeting.
2. To qualify for a waiver of a requirement or prerequisite by taking and passing a test: I tested out of the beginning level of Spanish. You don't have to take geography because you tested out.