Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A hard black stone, such as jasper or basalt, formerly used to test the quality of gold or silver by comparing the streak left on the stone by one of these metals with that of a standard alloy.
  • n. An excellent quality or example that is used to test the excellence or genuineness of others: "the qualities of courage and vision that are the touchstones of leadership” ( Henry A. Kissinger). See Synonyms at standard.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stone used to test the quality of gold alloys.
  • n. A standard of comparison or evaluation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Lydian stone; basanite; -- so called because used to test the purity of gold and silver by the streak which is left upon the stone when it is rubbed by the metal. See basanite.
  • n. Any test or criterion by which the qualities of a thing are tried.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A very fine-grained dark-colored variety of schist or jasper, used for trying the quality of alloys of the precious metals.
  • n. Any test or criterion by which the qualities of a thing are tried: as, money, the touchstone of common honesty.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • Situated alongside the River Thames, the iconic power plant has been featured in works by The Who, Pink Floyd and The Beatles, and now this cultural touchstone is being retrofitted into a self-sufficent community powered by a zero-carbon energy plant.

    Mike Chino | Inhabitat

  • Harry and Sally bicker over Casablanca; for the women of Sleepless in Seattle, the emotional touchstone is An Affair to Remember (“Men never get this movie!”).

    Double-X Films

  • Its touchstone is the autonomous individual celebrated by John Locke in

    On Abortion: A Lincolnian Position

  • Like Lincoln's, its touchstone is the common good of the nation, not the sovereign self.

    On Abortion: A Lincolnian Position

  • The touchstone is this Rolling Stone postmortem of the battle over Caliornia’s Proposition 8, which concludes that the anti-gay amendment could have been defeated, but for a signally inept campaign waged by its opponents.

    But Dude, They’re WRONG

  • The upcoming Palm Pre, for example, uses something much cooler: a magnetized inductive charging platform called a touchstone, which charges the Pre when it rests on it.

    One cell phone charger for all: Coming, if not soon

  • A touchstone is a hard, black stone used to test the integrity of gold and silver, and it symbolizes our venture in a way.

    Sin in Soul's Kitchen

  • My touchstone is the Lester Garnier case--more than you want to know about SFPD.

    San Francisco Police Story

  • And our view here is that, of course, the touchstone is the wish of the patient.

    CNN Transcript Mar 31, 2005

  • I was likewise attracted by the Morpheus in touchstone, which is described by

    Travels through France and Italy

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