- a research institute or organization employed to solve complex problems or predict or plan future developments, as in military, political, or social areas.
- informal a group of specialists organized by a business enterprise, governmental body, etc, and commissioned to undertake intensive study and research into specified problems
n.also think-tank, 1959 as “research institute” (first reference is to Center for Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, Calif.); it had been colloquial for “the brain” since 1905. See think + tank (n.). An institution in which scholars pursue research in public policy. Largely funded by endowments and grants, think tanks work to improve public awareness of policy issues (through publications) and to influence the government to act upon issues of national importance. (See power elite.) A group or organization dedicated to problem-solving and research, especially in such areas as technology, social or political strategy, and the military. For example, The congressional leaders rely too heavily on that conservative think tank. This term originated about 1900 as a facetious colloquialism for brain and was given its new meaning about 1950.