物は試し。

English Translation

You’ll never know unless you try.

What’s the source of this idiom?

I think the translation is more an explanation than a translation, I think “the proof is in the pudding” is an English idiom with a similar meaning, although the English version is more allegoric.

Translating literally, I get “The thing (is) the test”. So “the test is in making/using the object under discussion”, you’ll never know how it is until you try.

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物は試し is a frequent expression. The formal full version is 物は試しにやってみなければ分からない。= You cannot find out the result unless you give a try (to a thing).

We usually use this expression when it’s a long shot or very unpredictable.

It can be used when 1) you encourage someone to try, or 2) you are convincing yourself to muster up courage.

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