test the water
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 wateror
test the waters
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.
test the waterjudge people's feelings or opinions before taking further action.
test the ˈwater/ˈwaterstry 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.
test the water (waters), to
To try something out. This expression, which alludes either to testing the purity of water in a well or to putting one’s hand or foot into water to test its temperature, dates from the late 1800s. Diana Ramsay used it in A Little Murder Music (1970), “‘If you’re attempting to establish a motive. . . .’—‘I’m just testing the water,’ Meredith said.”