American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

calculated risk

A chance taken after careful estimation of the probable outcome, as in Taking their dispute to arbitration was definitely a calculated risk. This term uses calculated in the sense of "planned with forethought," a usage from the mid-1800s. Its pairing with risk dates from World War II, when the chances for losing bombers were taken into account before a bombing mission was sent out. After the war the term was transferred to other undertakings where taking a chance to succeed had to be weighed against the costs of failure.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
We simply don't have the resources to prevent all catastrophes and still allow
  for innovation and calculated risk-taking.
It was a carefully calculated risk that held out the prospect of huge rewards.
And for others, it's a calculated risk that they take.
It's a calculated risk that each employee can and should decide whether it's
  worth the gamble.
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