test the water (waters), to

test the water

or

test the waters

COMMON
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

test the water

judge people's feelings or opinions before taking further action.
See also: test, water

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, water