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put out (the/one's) feelers
To try to learn or discern something tentatively, discreetly, or indirectly. (An allusion to the antennae of insects, used to detect minute changes in the environment.) He's been putting out feelers to see how employees might react to such a policy. Why don't you put out your feelers and see if anyone is interested in buying. A: "I wonder what's going on with Jennifer lately." B: "I'll see if I can put the feelers out the next time I see her."
put out (some) feelers (on someone or something)
to arrange to find out about something in an indirect manner. I put out some feelers on Betty to try and find out what is going on. I will put out feelers on what's going on with June.
put out feelers
Discreetly try to learn something, as in They put out feelers to see if anyone was interested in buying the company. This idiom alludes to an animal's feelers, such as antennae or tentacles, used to find food. [First half of 1800s]
put out feelers
If you put out feelers, you carefully try to find out about other people's feelings or plans, so that you will know what to do next. I will put some feelers out among my community. Spend some time putting feelers out to see if you can find a suitable building. Note: Verbs such as send, have or throw are sometimes used instead of put. He has sent out feelers to three right-wing parties, with a view to freeing himself from the coalition with Labour. Note: Feelers are the long thin sense organs on the heads of insects and certain other creatures such as snails.
put out/have ˈfeelerstry to find out what people think about a particular course of action before you do it: They’re putting out feelers about the possibility of building a new sports complex in Leeds.
An insect has feelers (= antennae) on its head, which it uses to feel or sense things.