What is the idiom or phrase to describe someone fishing around by asking the same question to different people until they get the answer they want? Like when someone asks a sales person if there are any specials or discount, and the answer is no. So they go ask someone else the same question hoping that if they ask enough eventually someone will tell them what the wanted to hear first time.

Similar to the phrase "asking the same question won't get you a different answer". It's usually used to describe kids asking the same question hoping that someone will say yes. Almost like not wanting to accept reality, and trying to convince yourself you can when you know you can't, but ask anyway because eventually someone will give you the answer you want, even though it won't change the outcome.

So say a child does not want to drink water, but they have heard plenty doctor's and teachers and parents say that you HAVE to drink water else you'll die. They already know that's true but don't want to accept it. So they get clever and ask around, constructing the question in such a way that eventually someone will give them the answer they want to her. So instead of asking if they can drink juice instead of water and not die (because they know the answer will be no) they ask "Mom, instead of drinking 6 cups of water a day, can I drink 18 cups of juice a day instead?" implying that the fluid content in 18 cups of juice will be equal to the fluid content your body requires from the 6 cups of water everyone says you need.

I hope my question makes sense?

  • Asking only for an idiom is not helpful. What has your research found?
    – lbf
    Jun 1, 2018 at 16:22
  • We've had a number of cases in recent years where various EU member countries have had to hold repeat referendums because they gave the "wrong" answer. If there'd been a pre-existing well-known term (idiomatic or otherwise), I think it would have been widely publicised by the disgruntled. But nothing comers to mind, so I think maybe we don't have a "standard" way of expressing the situation (which can apply in many contexts). Jun 1, 2018 at 16:28
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    Ragfrack suggests 'If you don't like the answer, change the question' (with the meaning 'If you don't like the answer, ask the question in a way more likely to give an answer you prefer.) The Dilbert cartoon loosely covering such obscurantism that they provide is marvellous. Jun 1, 2018 at 16:47
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    Children (and adults) drink when they are thirsty. They don't have to be told to do so. This is part of human physiology. ( And the current fad of carrying water bottles around in Northern Europe for fear of dehydration is idiotic in the extreme.)
    – David
    Jun 1, 2018 at 22:09
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    In Beyond the Fringe's skit "The End of the World" (at 4:07), the cult leader who has led his followers to a mountaintop and counted down the apocalypse on his Ingersoll watch, only to see nothing happen tells his followers, "Never mind lads—same time tomorrow. We must get a winner one day." I think of that line whenever someone (or some entity) comes back day after day with the same previously rejected proposal, hoping for a different outcome each time around. Another pertinent expression, for similar reasons, is "The 3,268th time is the charm."
    – Sven Yargs
    May 9, 2019 at 2:56

3 Answers 3


The term that fits the case is "opinion-shopping". There are online definitions that seem to restrict the use to audit and accountancy: "Opinion shopping is a dubious practice that involves finding an auditor who will overlook any shortcomings in the company's financial reporting. Opinion shopping is prohibited by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)." (Investopedia). But the term is certainly used in wider contexts within UK government circles.


I think the similar idiom you might be thinking of is the quote from Einstein which goes: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

  • ...or possibly not Einstein Aug 18, 2020 at 12:17
  • Of course, asking different people the same question is altering one independent variable. Aug 18, 2020 at 13:45

The idiom that comes to mind is a broken record (sounding like one / being one).

used figuratively in describing something (such as a statement or experience) that is frequently or tediously repeated

I know I sound like a broken record but I'll say it again: I believe that it is virtually impossible to predict mortgage rates over the short term.

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