Fun Phrases: Throw it against the wall and see what sticks

Idioms can be a lot of fun. This particular one is pretty popular among knowledge workers and there are a lot of variations, which it could be fun to alternate in a meeting or work into conversation across a day or two to see who notices.

As Jonathon Green notes in his Quora answer, this idiom goes back at least to the 1950s in the United States:

1954 N.Y. Herald Trib. 1 Mar. 15/1: One ad man, sniffing away at a program idea, turned to his colleagues and remarked: ‘Let’s drop this down the well and see how big a splash it makes.’

[Ibid.] 2 Apr. 21/1: Take this one, for example, which is a very real example of Madison Ave.: ‘Let’s roll some rocks and see what crawls out.’ Obviously the boys are not expecting much. In the old days, they used to ‘mother hen’ an idea, or they’d say ‘let’s incubate this and see what hatches’.

[Ibid.] 14 June 17/1: And if you’re seeking new ways to say ‘I like it but let’s, for God’s sake, go slowly’ […] here are a couple that should get you through the morning. ‘Let’s smear it on the cat and see if she licks it off.’ Or: ‘Let’s send it on a local and see if it comes back express.’

1957 M. Shulman Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) 150: Run it up the mast, and let’s see if anybody salutes.

1958 Mad mag. Jan.–Feb. 17: The minute we received your article we put it on the 5.25 to Westport to see whether it would get off. It didn’t. Then we picked up the ball and rolled it down the alley to see how many pins would fall. Not enough.


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