What is an English a word that would describe an ineffectual, questionable approach to someone or something so as to get different information on that subject?
In my language this word is the verb "a tatona". I looked it up in the dictionary, but no alternative has satisfied me.
I then checked Larousse, for in French, tâtonner, has the same meaning as in my language. Evidently neither of its alternatives have satisfied me too.
I will provide some examples so as to clarify my point as follows:
The word might be used, for example, to probe the snow in searching for survivors following an avalanche;
A thin ice covering a pool can be probed too in order to see if it sustains you;
In sports, in competition, be it team or individual when commencing and say that the opponents are still feeling each other's pulse? hoping to discover the opponents strongest and weakest points before the actual play starts in full;
In techniques when making small experiments so as to estimate a pattern or a model;
Figuratively, when saying that one probes the ground or the terrain; it means that one wants to check the status of someone or something.
I wonder what would be the equivalent in English of this word or maybe an expression might be better suited? Or would you advice me to use the appropriate word expressions) according to different contexts?
I thank you in advance.