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to get the lay of the land

Definitions

  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • to get the lay of the land to learn the general situation or state of affairs, especially in preparation for action.
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Usage

In literature:

Up and up and up we sailed, way up at first, to get "the lay of the land" and make note of it.
"Herland" by Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman
We'll slip up to get better lay of the land.
"The Last of the Plainsmen" by Zane Grey
The other method pointed out to him was an endeavour to get a lease of some crown lands which lay contiguous to his little paternal estate.
"The World's Greatest Books, Vol VI." by Various
To-morrow we can ride around a little, and kinda get the lay of the land.
"The Uphill Climb" by B. M. Bower
At any rate, he wanted first to get the lay of the land from the old man.
"Sheila of Big Wreck Cove" by James A. Cooper
Johnny was soon in the land of dreams, but Tommy lay awake thinking how he could find a brownie and get him to live in the house.
"Childhood's Favorites and Fairy Stories" by Various
I want Matilda to get the lay of the land before the winter sets in.
"A Son of the Hills" by Harriet T. Comstock
He had been over this part of the road on his wheel lately, just to get an idea as to the lay of the land.
"The Banner Boy Scouts on a Tour" by George A. Warren
This is a new trail to me, and I'd like to get the lay of the land.
"The Boy from the Ranch" by Frank V. Webster
He'd wait, get the lay of the land first and then try to dope something out with Tommy.
"The Copper-Clad World" by Harl Vincent
I want to get the lay of the land first, and try to find out what they are going to do with us.
"At the Fall of Port Arthur" by Edward Stratemeyer
I'd picked up the lay of the land near the Port and the way to get about in the country beyond, from sailors.
"The Pioneers" by Katharine Susannah Prichard
The perfection in the laying of the land and quality of the soil was severely offset by the inability to get water.
"The Conquest" by Oscar Micheaux
There being no smoke I was able to get a better understanding of the lay of land than yesterday.
"Diary of an Enlisted Man" by Lawrence Van Alstyne
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In poetry:

'Twas one of her practical drives--she thought I'd understand!
But I'll never break sod again till I get the lay of the land.
But one thing's settled with me--to appreciate heaven well,
'Tis good for a man to have some fifteen minutes of hell.
"Gone With A Handsomer Man" by William McKendree Carleton
'Twas one of her practical drives—she thought I'd understand!
But I'll never break sod again till I get the lay of the land.
But one thing's settled with me—to appreciate heaven well,
'Tis good for a man to have some fifteen minutes of hell.
"Gone With A Handsomer Man" by Will McKendree Carleton

In news:

Cannerelli/The Post-Standard JORDAN-ELBRIDGE Superintendent Jim Froio took a year to get the “lay of the land†before proposing to cut four out of six administrative positions.
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In science:

Blind analysis has won a secure place in our practice of particle physics, as a talisman against experimenter’s bias, but it is not apposite when we are seeking to get the lay of the land.
Looking into Particle Production at the Large Hadron Collider
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