trial balloon

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trial balloon ‎(plural trial balloons)

  1. (idiomatic) An idea, suggestion, or prospective action, product, etc. offered to an audience or group in order to test whether it generates acceptance or interest.
    • 1925, "Tariff: Campaign Issue," Time, 30 Nov.:
      Congressman Cordell Hull, onetime Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, last week issued a statement, as a sort of trial balloon no doubt, linking the high tariff with failure to get 100 cents on a dollar in payment on War debts from Europe.
    • 2006, Suzan Fraser, "Icahn Floats Time Warner Portal Merger Idea For Comment," FinancialWire, 19 Jan. (retrieved 27 Jan 2010):
      Billionaire investor Carl Icahn and his investment group reportedly floated an idea to merge certain Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) assets with an undisclosed web portal. . . . "This trail balloon, or rumor, lacks the specificity [necessary] for a thorough response," said a Time Warner spokeswoman.


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