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[kee-stohn] /ˈkiˌstoʊn/
the wedge-shaped piece at the summit of an arch, regarded as holding the other pieces in place.
something on which associated things depend:
the keystone of one's philosophy.
Also called keystone sack. Baseball Slang. second base (def 1).
Origin of keystone
1630-40; key1 + stone
2. basis, principle, foundation, linchpin. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for keystone
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Historical Examples
  • The lifting of the keystone of the arch, when first inserted is a very interesting performance.

    The Choctaw Freedmen Robert Elliott Flickinger
  • In fact, not a few of us think that the Strathcona is the keystone of the Mission.

    A Labrador Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • Their crown, or keystone, being ten feet higher than their framing arches, a pronounced concave shape results.

    How France Built Her Cathedrals Elizabeth Boyle O'Reilly
  • That is the keystone of American liberty—'malice toward none.'

    Spring Street James H. Richardson
  • He immediately repaired to the keystone city and entered upon the important duties assigned him.

British Dictionary definitions for keystone


Also called headstone, quoin. the central stone at the top of an arch or the top stone of a dome or vault
something that is necessary to connect or support a number of other related things
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for keystone

"stone in the middle of an arch, which holds up the others," 1630s, from key (n.1) in figurative sense of "that which holds together other parts" + stone. Figurative sense is from 1640s. Pennsylvania was called the Keystone State because of its position (geographical and political) in the original American confederation, between northern states and southern ones. Keystone cops were the bumbling police in the slapstick silent movies produced by Keystone Company, formed by Canadian-born U.S. film director Mack Sennett (1884-1960) in 1912.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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