To float a balloon for something

Has anyone come across the expression 'to float a balloon for' something? It appeared in some copy recently and was a new one on me.

Judging by the context, it seems to mean something similar to 'to fly a kite for' something, ie express support (not to be confused with 'go fly a kite', a euphemism for 'go away'). But 'fly a kite for' isn't an expression I would personally use either, and I don't think it is that common.

Googling just gets lots of pages about literal balloons and kites, rather than metaphorical ones. And there's nothing relevant in my Concise OED or limited reference library – time to invest in some new books perhaps?

7 comments:

Dan said...

Maybe a garbled version of "to float a trial balloon"?

TootsNYC said...

I'm assuming the shortened version of "trial balloon" as well

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=trial+balloon

Is "trial balloon" an Americanism? it could easily be.

Uke Xensen said...

Put me down in the "trial balloon" camp also. The phrase comes from balloons sent up to test weather conditions.

JD said...

Ah, I haven't heard the 'trial balloon' phrase but that doesn't necessarily mean it's an Americanism. At least Google seems to like it as a metaphorical rather than just literal expression. Not many examples on 'pages from the UK' though so it may well be more common on the other side of the Atlantic...

Roy said...

And "Fly a Kite" is also slang for passing a dud cheque.

JRPHILLIPS66 said...

To 'float a trial balloon' means to air an idea and see what the response is. If it's not accepted then your trial balloon was shot down, much like a spy balloon from the World Wars. I don't know if it's from the US but I heard it as a kid, and I was born in 1948, just after WWII. Not many people will recall it. It seems to be sort of outdated a bit, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

For an excellent discussion of the origin and usage or the expression "float a trail balloon" see the following link. MLH Shelby, North Carolina (USA)

What is a Trial Balloon? - Brief and Straightforward Guide: What is a Trial Balloon?
www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-trial-balloon.htm