litmus test

noun
1.
Chemistry. the use of litmus paper or solution to test the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.
2.
a crucial and revealing test in which there is one decisive factor.

Origin:
1955–60; so called from chemical tests in which litmus or litmus paper is an indicator

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Collins
World English Dictionary
litmus test
 
n
1.  a test to establish the acidity or alkalinity of a mixture
2.  a critical indication of future success or failure

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

litmus test n.
A test for chemical acidity or basicity using litmus paper.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Her problem seems to be that she has violated the university's litmus test for
  what it means to be open-minded.
The questions were a litmus test to ask a candidate.
Having a humor-group or a beer-group is relatively simple, since there is no
  ideological litmus test for enjoying comedy or beer.
The arguments put forward so far seem to use the litmus test of what happened,
  as opposed to what is needed.
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