proving ground

noun
any place, context, or area for testing something, as a piece of scientific equipment, a theory, etc.

Origin:
1940–45

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World English Dictionary
proving ground
 
n
a place or situation in which something new, such as equipment or a theory, can be tested

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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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

proving ground

area used for testing devices and equipment, usually, though not always, military. Testing, in general, has for its purpose the determination of the durability and probable life of a piece of equipment. the enforcement of standards through sample testing (for example, of ammunition), the discovery of weaknesses to be corrected, and the effects of operating a device under various conditions, including extremes of temperature and weather, difficult terrain, and excessive use.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Its proving ground as a scientist has been the genome of baker's yeast, a popular laboratory species.
But on the runways, the proving ground for models hoping to go abroad, the diversity drops off precipitously.
The future of fuel-cell vehicles is already happening in an unlikely proving ground: forklifts used in warehouses.
But what he could not have foreseen was that his symphonies would become the main proving ground for new recording techniques.
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