When my old dog and I had a regular local park, upon entering, she used to immediately run through all the bushes, hoping to flush out any squirrels. She didn't know if there were any squirrels there—she just knew that half the time she ran through the bushes, squirrels would appear. What is the word for what she was doing? A recce? Not exactly, it was specifically pro-active.

I'm looking for an action: To make some noise/activity in order to flush out something, to make something appear—so as to get a look at what is there. Maybe like the servants do when they bang things in order to scare the pheasants into the sky so that their lords and masters can shoot them. But not exactly like that; it has to contain the concept that it's a gamble, a guess, that there may be something there but you're not sure.

I'd like to be able to use the word in a general sense or to describe coming up with an idea/theory/plan/project designed to make a solution manifest itself even though you had no idea what it was, or even if there was one.

Let's think of a sentence:

My project was designed to _____ a solution.

Sniff out a solution, rout out a solution, flush out a solution - actually: to set up the conditions whereby a solution may appear. Another example: UV light causes genetic mutations which means that there is more chance of a useful mutation appearing. What is UV light doing? But it's also got to work for what my dog was doing.

Can anyone help? Even a German word would be good....

  • discover could fit, though you'd probably need to qualify it in the rest of the sentence (e.g. "My project was designed to discover any possible solution." or "My project was designed hopefully to discover a solution."
    – calvin
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 1:49

3 Answers 3


Keying off your phrase of "like the servants do when they bang things in order to scare the pheasants into the sky", that particular activity is known as beating the bushes. Quite honestly there is no guarantee that there are pheasants in those bushes, although hopefully there is a very high probability.

So you could say your project is designed to beat the bushes for a solution: not necessarily looking for one directly but trying to scare or surprise one into showing itself.

Another phrase that has a more inherently-obvious element of chance would be cast about for; you cast out your fishing line into some part of the lake/pond/etc, and hope that some fish goes for it; your project casts about for a solution, setting up some likely conditions and hoping that the solution pops up as a result.

Alternative words and phrases would be things like forage, hunt, rummage, turn (things) inside out, ferret out, or bring to light. (see http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/beat+the+bushes for a fuller list.)


"Percolating, brewing, incubating or cooking up an idea" are all related to the process of starting with some kind of raw ingredients and through a process, produce a finished product.


(Adverb) By some chance. Perhaps.

'Whenever we were out walking, my dog Vaga would run into the bushes to find, perchance, a squirrel or two.'

'My project was designed to formulate, perchance, a solution.'

'UV light causes genetic mutations which could, perchance, cause a useful mutation to appear.'

This archaic, seldom used word is all that I could think of that could be used with all three scenarios.

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