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[tuhch-stohn] /ˈtʌtʃˌstoʊn/
a test or criterion for the qualities of a thing.
a black siliceous stone formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal.
Origin of touchstone
1475-85; touch + stone
1. standard, measure, model, pattern. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for touchstone
  • His rational worldview became a touchstone for both supporters and critics.
  • Because, he responded, this is a common touchstone of human experience.
  • The essay became a touchstone in the heyday of literary theory, reprinted in a slew of anthologies and cited copiously.
  • The first virtue, the touchstone of a masculine style, is its use of the active verb and the concrete noun.
  • Humility is the touchstone which discovers the devil's artifices, in all which a spirit of pride reigns.
  • But the metal is something of a touchstone on the supply side, too.
  • Public swimming pools soon became a touchstone of municipal social reform.
  • Terrifically profitable, the phone became a cultural touchstone.
  • Hers is the type of art you may cherish as a touchstone of your own private taste.
  • Hooker wanted his collection to be the touchstone for the world, but he was premature.
British Dictionary definitions for touchstone


a criterion or standard by which judgment is made
a hard dark siliceous stone, such as basalt or jasper, that is used to test the quality of gold and silver from the colour of the streak they produce on it
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 touchstone

late 15c., from touch (v.) + stone (n.). Black quartz, used for testing the quality of gold and silver alloys by the color of the streak made by rubbing them on it. Cf. also basalt. Figurative sense is from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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