litmus test was our Word of the Day on 05/17/2013. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of litmus test in a Sentence
The party is using attitudes about gun control as a litmus test for political candidates.
litmus test Has Scientific Origins
It was in the 14th century that scientists discovered that litmus, a mixture of colored organic compounds obtained from lichen, turns red in acid solutions and blue in alkaline solutions and, thus, can be used as an acid-base indicator. Six centuries later, people began using litmus test figuratively. It can now refer to any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Often it refers to something (such as an opinion about a political or moral issue) that can be used to make a judgment about whether someone or something is acceptable or not.
First Known Use of litmus test
LITMUS TEST Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of litmus test for English Language Learners
: something (such as an opinion about a political or moral issue) that is used to make a judgment about whether someone or something is acceptable
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