sounding board

noun
1.
a thin, resonant plate of wood forming part of a musical instrument, and so placed as to enhance the power and quality of the tone.
2.
a structure over or behind and above a speaker, orchestra, etc., to reflect the sound toward the audience.
3.
a board used in floors, partitions, etc., for deadening sound.
4.
a person or persons whose reactions serve as a measure of the effectiveness of the methods, ideas, etc., put forth.
5.
a person or group that propagates ideas, opinions, etc.: He was more of a sounding board than a novelist.
Also called soundboard.


Origin:
1760–70

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sounding board
 
n
1.  See also belly Also called: soundboard a thin wooden board in a piano or comprising the upper surface of a resonating chamber in a violin, cello, etc, serving to amplify the vibrations produced by the strings passing across it
2.  Also called: soundboard a thin screen suspended over a pulpit, stage, etc, to reflect sound towards an audience
3.  a person, group, experiment, etc, used to test a new idea, policy, etc, for acceptance or applicability

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Example sentences
They provide a sounding board for discussion of the best means of attaining
  certain of the president's goals.
But the older professor was a great sounding board for the younger one's work,
  in concept if not in methodology.
Without someone to turn to, without a proper sounding board, research is far
  too arduous and far too lonely to sustain.
Ford is careful to use them as a sounding board when they make changes to their
  favorite car.
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