a variety of magnetite that possesses magnetic polarity and attracts iron.
a piece of this serving as a magnet.
something that attracts strongly.
Also, loadstone.

1505–15; lode (in obsolete sense “way, course”) + stone

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World English Dictionary
lodestone or loadstone (ˈləʊdˌstəʊn)
1.  a.  a rock that consists of pure or nearly pure magnetite and thus is naturally magnetic
 b.  a piece of such rock, which can be used as a magnet and which was formerly used as a primitive compass
2.  a person or thing regarded as a focus of attraction
[C16: literally: guiding stone]
loadstone or loadstone
[C16: literally: guiding stone]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"magnetic oxide of iron," 1510s, from lode + stone. So called because it was used as a magnet to guide mariners.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
lodestone also loadstone   (lōd'stōn')  Pronunciation Key 
A piece of the mineral magnetite that acts like a magnet.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The difficulty in identifying wetlands is only one of several factors that make their regulation a lodestone for controversy.
It is appropriate to acknowledge and use the lodestone quality our merit system principles provide.
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