If you see your science-loving neighbor headed home with a power cord, a handful of test tubes, a stopwatch, and a bag of potatoes, there’s probably no need to be alarmed. There’s a good chance he’s only conducting an experiment, a scientific test conducted under controlled conditions.

To refer to a scientific test, use the noun experiment. If you want to describe the work done in conducting such a test, experiment will do the trick as well, since it can also act as a verb, as in "scientists experiment with helium." You can also use it more generally to describe trying a new method or idea. For example, you could experiment with a new hairstyle or different routes to get to school or work.

Definitions of experiment

n the act of conducting a controlled test or investigation

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the act of subjecting to experimental test in order to determine how well something works
trial and error
experimenting until a solution is found
Michelson-Morley experiment
a celebrated experiment conducted by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley; their failure to detect any influence of the earth's motion on the velocity of light was the starting point for Einstein's theory of relativity
control experiment
an experiment designed to control for variables affecting the results of another experiment
Type of:
research project, scientific research
research into questions posed by scientific theories and hypotheses

n the testing of an idea

“it was an experiment in living”
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pilot experiment
a preliminary experiment whose outcome can lead to a more extensive experiment
test, trial, trial run, tryout
trying something to find out about it
field test, field trial
a test of the performance of some new product under the conditions in which it will be used
alpha test
(computer science) a first test of an experimental product (such as computer software) carried out by the developer
beta test
(computer science) a second test of an experimental product (such as computer software) carried out by an outside organization
road test
a test to insure that a vehicle is roadworthy
trial balloon
a test of public opinion
Type of:
enquiry, inquiry, research
a search for knowledge

n a venture at something new or different

“as an experiment he decided to grow a beard”
Type of:
any venturesome undertaking especially one with an uncertain outcome

v conduct a test or investigation

“We are experimenting with the new drug in order to fight this disease”
try out
try something new, as in order to gain experience
Type of:
investigate, look into
investigate scientifically

v try something new, as in order to gain experience

“The composer experimented with a new style”
try out

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