smell test

idiom.
A metaphoric test used to determine the legitimacy or authenticity of a situation.
Example Citation:
WBBM-Ch. 2 fired long-standing medical reporter Dr. Michael Breen on Tuesday, claiming he had violated journalistic standards by using similar voiceovers in reports aired in May and October, according to Breen.
Breen, who has been with the station since 1995, said he plans to sue over what he labeled an unfair attempt to avoid paying him the remaining three years of a four-year contract. "They said I was recycling material and that was grounds for dismissal," Breen said. "They're trying to save themselves money at the cost of my reputation. We'll see if this passes the smell test with the people of Chicago or with a judge."
— Steve Johnson, "Channel 2 faces lawsuit after it fires reporter," Chicago Tribune, November 13, 2002
Earliest Citation:
Most firms say their use of private investigators is strictly limited. Robert J. Boutillier, partner in charge of U.S. operations at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., the largest accounting firm, says an agency would be used only if a prospective client did not check out well in the course of the usual inquiries to lawyers, bankers, investment bankers, and credit associations. "It has to pass the smell test," he says of a new client. "If there's a problem that requires looking into, we might use investigators. Or we might not want to bother with it."
— "When accountants hire private detectives," Business Week, June 30, 1975
Notes:
This fragrant phrase comes from the idea of smelling food in advance as a test to see if it has gone bad.
Related Words: Categories:

New words. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • smell test — noun a) An informal method for determining whether something is authentic, credible, or ethical, by using ones common sense or sense of propriety. It just doesnt pass the smell test. It just creates too many opportunities for cutting corners,… …   Wiktionary

  • pass the smell test — to be morally acceptable. Robinson s removal as an independent investigator doesn t pass the smell test, and many believe it was done for political reasons. Usage notes: often used in negative sentences, as in the example …   New idioms dictionary

  • Test pilot — Test pilots are aviators who fly new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated. Test pilots may work for military organizations or private, (mostly aerospace) companies.… …   Wikipedia

  • smell — [smel] vt. smelled or [Chiefly Brit.] Brit. smelt, smelling [ME smellen < OE * smyllan < IE base * smel , to burn slowly > SMOLDER: basic sense “to give off smoke”] 1. to be or become aware of by means of the nose and the olfactory… …   English World dictionary

  • Test Pattern (TV series) — Test Pattern was the first game show on the Canadian television channel MuchMusic in the late from 1989 into the early 1990s. It occasionally featured Canadian musicians who were prominent at the time. Dan Gallagher hosted the program and it was… …   Wikipedia

  • smell — smellable, adj. smell less, adj. /smel/, v., smelled or smelt, smelling, n. v.t. 1. to perceive the odor or scent of through the nose by means of the olfactory nerves; inhale the odor of: I smell something burning. 2. to test by the sense of… …   Universalium

  • smell — [[t]smɛl[/t]] v. smelled smelt, smell•ing, 1) to perceive the odor or scent of through the nose by means of the olfactory nerves; inhale the odor of 2) to test by the sense of smell: He smelled the meat to see if it was fresh[/ex] 3) to perceive …   From formal English to slang

  • smell — [c]/smɛl / (say smel) verb (smelt or smelled, smelling) –verb (t) 1. to perceive through the nose, by means of the olfactory nerves; inhale the odour of. 2. to test by the sense of smell. 3. to perceive, detect, or discover by shrewdness or… …   Australian English dictionary

  • nose test — noun a) An informal method for determining whether something is authentic, credible, or ethical, by using ones common sense or sense of propriety. In many cases, said Henry J. Stern, the president of the Citizens Union, a civic group, and a… …   Wiktionary

  • dinner table test — n. A symbolic test used to decide whether a topic is generally acceptable to one s peers, or is suitable for polite conversation, such as at the dinner table. Example Citations: Stirring a potentially explosive debate over faith and politics, the …   New words


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.