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babysitter test

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!
See also: test

duck test

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.
See also: duck, test

red-face test

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.
See also: test

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.
See also: fail, smell, test

smell test

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.
See also: smell, test

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.
See also: of, survive, test, 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.
See also: of, test, time, withstand

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!
See also: bring, test

litmus test

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.
See also: litmus, test

acid test

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.
See also: acid, test

cram for an examination

 and 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

litmus test

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.
See also: litmus, test

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.
See also: put, test

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.
See also: of, stand, test, 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.
See also: test

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.
See also: out, test

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.
See also: test

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.
See also: test

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.
See also: out, test

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
See also: examine, head, need

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
See also: pass, smell, test

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.
See also: put, test

stand the test of time

also 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.
See also: of, stand, test, 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)
See also: test, water

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.
See also: acid, test

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.
See also: litmus, test

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.
See also: examine, head, need

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.
See also: of, stand, test, 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
See also: test, water

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.
See also: and, test, tried

acid test

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.
See also: acid, test

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]
See also: put, test

test for

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.
See also: test

test out

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.
See also: out, test
References in periodicals archive ?
Biomarker Discovery Leads to Advanced Genetic Testing II-14
Proficiency testing program through inter-laboratory comparison
Manual and automated tests include performance testing, stress and load testing, functional testing, torture testing and interoperability testing.
The CTPs normally drive the DT&E test requirements and the program office gets to decide what level and degree of testing is required.
Implementing formative factors can assist in preparing students for multiple types of assessment, so they are comfortable when testing occurs.
Its self-contained, handheld testing kit consists of a readout device, a loop for collecting a blood sample--or, in a version under FDA review, a saliva sample--and a vial containing a developing solution.
Deploying clustering in a testing environment can be beneficial when used appropriately.
While the government has led the way, the normalization of drug testing has occurred mainly in the private sector, where there are no constitutional barriers to the practice.
The quick solution to this problem was to add eddy current testing to its inspection line, complementing the existing ultrasonic testing.
Our initiation of these activities in pursuit of a culture of testing success is consistent with the suggestions of Steele (1997) who argued that changes in minority students' expectations could lead to improvements in their test performance.
Accuracy of Antibody Testing -- and Denialist Arguments
The White House and the staff of a joint House and Senate committee struggled throughout the summer to make the testing plan work.
The trend toward "real-life" testing further complicates the picture.
Key words: conformance; hardware; information technology; interoperability; measurement; performance; reference data; software; testing.
The analysts used logistic regression to identify characteristics associated with recent HIV testing and, among those who had been tested recently, anonymous testing, testing because of exposure to risk and receipt of counseling with testing.