dry run

a rehearsal or practice exercise.
Military. practice in firing arms without using live ammunition.

1940–45, Americanism

dry-run, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dry run
1.  military practice in weapon firing, a drill, or a manoeuvre without using live ammunition
2.  informal a trial or practice, esp in simulated conditions; rehearsal

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Computing Dictionary

dry run definition

To execute a program by hand, writing values of variables and other run-time data on paper, in order to check its operation and control flow or to track down a bug (as part of debugging). A dry run is an extreme form of desk check or code review and is practical only for fairly simple programs, small amounts of data and simple external interfaces. It was often performed off-line using a hardcopy of the source code.
Dry runs were common practice in the days when access to computers was limited but the availability of screen editors and fast compilers makes debugging by printf a more productive method in most cases. Sophisticated debuggers that allow you to get the computer to step through your source code line by line and show values of variables make even this unnecessary.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

dry run

A trial exercise or rehearsal, as in Regard this as a dry run for tonight's ceremony. This term, using dry in the sense of "unproductive," was at first employed mainly in the military for simulated bombings in which no bombs were dropped. [c. 1940]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The first interview would be a dry run for her other two interviews.
It's a dry run that simulates flights while the airplane is on the ground.
So in a way it was a dry run, a drill, a test of the training and the systems
  in place to respond to a genuine disaster.
If you are concerned than do a dry run by checking the equipment and materials
  or a pilot test with a volunteer participant.
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