pan for

pan for (something)

To attempt to find mineral deposits of precious metals (especially gold) by using a pan to separate them from the sand or stones in a river- or streambed. I heard he struck it rich panning for gold in the Rocky Mountains.
See also: for, pan
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

pan for something

to search for a precious metal, usually gold, by using a pan to locate the bits of metal in sand and gravel in a stream bed. When I was in Alaska, I panned for gold in a little stream set aside for tourists. The old prospector spent many hours panning for gold.
See also: for, pan
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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The perfect pan for one cook may drive another cook crazy.