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pipe-opener (plural pipe-openers)

  1. A device for putting a hole in a pipe.
  2. A device or mechanism for clearing obstructions in a pipe.
  3. (sports) A practice event; a warm-up.
    • 1873, The Contemporary Review, volume 22:
      They will note the doings of the favourite for some particular race, scanning him keenly and critically ; they will see how he takes his pipe-opener, or if he breaks down, or if he turns lame, or is absent from exercise.
    • 1976, Caroline Silver, Lucinda Prior-Palmer, Eventing: the book of the three-day event:
      I would rather have the horse fit by the week-end preceding the three-day event and then, apart from a good sharp two-furlong pipe-opener after the dressage test before cross-country day, only do slow but interesting work, if necessary for long periods if the horse has an excitable temperament.
  4. (figuratively) A brisk walk or other aerobic exercise; a constitutional.
  5. (figuratively) An example that serves as an introduction.
    • 1991, Rudyard Kipling, edited by Thomas Pinney, Something of myself and other autobiographical writings:
      That tale may have served as a pipe-opener, but one could not see its wood for its trees, so I threw it away.
    • 2005, Robert Hughes, “Man of Steel”, in Robert Dessaix, editor, The Best Australian Essays 2005:
      There is just no way to experience these pieces by looking from the outside, or in photos or on video: the initial view of them from the balcony above the Arcelor gallery is impressively dramatic, yet it's the merest pipe-opener to what unfolds close up and at floor level.