trial and error

noun
experimentation or investigation in which various methods or means are tried and faulty ones eliminated in order to find the correct solution or to achieve the desired result or effect.

Origin:
1800–10

trial-and-error, adjective
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World English Dictionary
trial and error
 
n
a method of discovery, solving problems, etc, based on practical experiment and experience rather than on theory: he learned to cook by trial and error

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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

trial and error definition


To “proceed by trial and error” is to experiment, rejecting what does not work and adopting what does.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

trial and error

An attempt to accomplish something by trying various means until the correct one is found. for example, The only way to solve this problem is by trial and error. The error here alludes to the failed means or attempts, which are discarded until the right way is found. [c. 1800]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
There have been more than ten thousand years for trial and error taste testing.
This, in turn, requires a bit of trial and error experimentation.
Through trial and error, he has adapted studio photographic techniques to the
  process.
They were, rather, the product of rigorous observation and of years of trial
  and error.
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