fishing expedition

noun Informal.
a legal proceeding mainly for the purpose of interrogating an adversary, or of examining his or her property and documents, in order to gain useful information.
any inquiry carried on without any clearly defined plan or purpose in the hope of discovering useful information.
Also called fishing trip.

1960–65 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Slang Dictionary

fishing expedition definition

  1. n.
    an exploratory search for facts. (This involves asking questions with no preconceived notion of what the answers might reveal.) : The lawyer was on a fishing expedition. There was no real wrong committed to justify a lawsuit.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

fishing expedition

An attempt to find useful information by asking questions at random. For example, The sales force was told to go on a fishing expedition to find out what they could about the company's competitors. This expression was taken up by lawyers to describe interrogating an adversary in hopes of finding relevant evidence and is now used more broadly still. [c. 1930]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
By combining with other search channels, physicists are casting an increasingly
  broad net in this subatomic fishing expedition.
If you don't live on the coast, take a riverboat cruise or go on a fishing
Guests can use the resort's boat slips, canoes and kayaks, or join a fishing
  expedition from the resort dock.
It was referred to as a fishing expedition, or a mindless collecting of facts.
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