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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Several have told me not to buy into the Miers trial balloon.’
    • ‘I suspect this report is a trial balloon, to see what the domestic and international reaction would be.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘It's a new concept and we're just putting out a trial balloon,’ LeRoux said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But for now, he's merely the living trial balloon.’
    • ‘And it may be more of a trial balloon for forcing a coup than anything else, which would be good.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With more than six million acres of forest lost to fire last summer, it might not hurt to send up a trial balloon.’
    • ‘If it was just a trial balloon, it should be popped.’
    • ‘The Chinese government doesn't have accidents like this; it was clearly a trial balloon to see how markets would take the news.’
    tentative enquiry, tentative proposal, tentative suggestion
    View synonyms


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


trial balloon