Definition of trial balloon in English:

trial balloon


  • A tentative measure taken or statement made to see how a new policy will be received.

    ‘different members of the cabinet are sending up one trial balloon after another’
    • ‘Buried inside the ‘Economic Report of the President’ was a trial balloon for an approach that would fix the problem of the lower manufacturing jobs numbers.’
    • ‘And I can see a situation where that might apply, but what I'm saying is, what I think has happened is that the administration has run out a trial balloon.’
    • ‘If it was just a trial balloon, it should be popped.’
    • ‘It is not inconceivable that their op-ed is a trial balloon in the foreign-affairs bureaucracy's effort to make its case against proponents of radical change.’
    • ‘The Chinese government doesn't have accidents like this; it was clearly a trial balloon to see how markets would take the news.’
    • ‘I know, the author's intention is to provoke strong reaction but there's more to it, and it sounds too much like a trial balloon to me.’
    • ‘I suspect this report is a trial balloon, to see what the domestic and international reaction would be.’
    • ‘But for now, he's merely the living trial balloon.’
    • ‘Some administration and congressional advisors said they believed the idea had been floated as a trial balloon to see how much support or opposition it attracted.’
    • ‘Several have told me not to buy into the Miers trial balloon.’
    • ‘In other words, the panel will have some success, for example, in serving as a trial balloon for economic policies and in cultivating a new generation of economic and financial officials.’
    • ‘And it may be more of a trial balloon for forcing a coup than anything else, which would be good.’
    • ‘‘It's a new concept and we're just putting out a trial balloon,’ LeRoux said.’
    • ‘With more than six million acres of forest lost to fire last summer, it might not hurt to send up a trial balloon.’
    • ‘From time to time, however, the ‘orthodox school’ of historians and academics, as Windschuttle calls his adversaries, float a trial balloon to test a different approach.’
    • ‘Although there had been some speculation Pryor could be the trial balloon for the extreme parliamentary move, it now appears several others could head to the floor before him.’
    • ‘This trial balloon came on top of an article in which the US Federal Reserve pondered the use of ‘unconventional’ measures, including the purchase of equities, to boost the economy.’
    • ‘If this was, as some have suggested, a trial balloon being floated by the administration to see how it plays with the public, it is vital that we shoot it out of the sky with all due haste.’
    tentative enquiry, tentative proposal, tentative suggestion
    View synonyms


1930s: from translation of French ballon d'essai.


trial balloon