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


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • 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!”).

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  • 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.

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

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

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