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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

test the water


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.
See also: test, water
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

test the water

judge people's feelings or opinions before taking further action.
See also: test, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

test the ˈwater/ˈwaters

try 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.
See also: test, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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.”
See also: test, to, water
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
The court on May 21, asked this committee to test the water.
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A Sunday Mirror team visited five of the worstaffected areas to test the water and revealed the threat of illnesses such as E.coli and salmonella.
Susan, by email BIZ replies You could test the water by making up some pieces and having a party either at your home or that of a family member or friend.
"It makes it possible, affordable and manageable at the local level." Health workers can use the data or even go with a sick patient and easily test the water where they live.
I've never thought of myself as gay but I'm wondering if I am and if maybe I should test the water in gay bars or clubs.
With supremo Bernie Ecclestone known to be keen on staging a GP in Russia, the exhibition will test the water.
You'll never know the cause, or even if there are problems you can't detect, until you test the water and get inside and see it.
The idea was put to David Collier, the ECB chief executive last summer, and Lloyd and Kitson will test the water at a meeting of their clubs in Shrewsbury tomorrow.
However, Cere-zo's statement could now tempt one of Europe's big clubs to test the water with a big money offer.
Beach said, "using these test strips gives consumers a chance to actually test the water and make [their own] decisions whether ...
So two years ago, Anastasia began a science project to test the water. She wanted to find out if an increased human population has had a negative impact on the bay's water quality.