touch·​stone | \ ˈtəch-ˌstōn How to pronounce touchstone (audio) \
plural touchstones

Definition of touchstone

1 : a fundamental or quintessential part or feature : basis a touchstone film of that decade now considered a touchstone of the city's life— Michael Specter
2 : a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing Good service is one touchstone of a first-class restaurant.
3 : a black siliceous stone related to flint that is used to test the purity of gold and formerly silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by the metal

Choose the Right Synonym for touchstone

standard, criterion, gauge, yardstick, touchstone mean a means of determining what a thing should be. standard applies to any definite rule, principle, or measure established by authority. standards of behavior criterion may apply to anything used as a test of quality whether formulated as a rule or principle or not. questioned the critic's criteria for excellence gauge applies to a means of testing a particular dimension (such as thickness, depth, diameter) or figuratively a particular quality or aspect. polls as a gauge of voter dissatisfaction yardstick is an informal substitute for criterion that suggests quantity more often than quality. housing construction as a yardstick of economic growth touchstone suggests a simple test of the authenticity or value of something intangible. fine service is one touchstone of a first-class restaurant

Did you know?

Since the early 16th century, touchstone has referred to a particular kind of siliceous stone (that is, stone containing silica) used to do a particular job: determine the purity of precious metals. The process involves comparing marks made by rubbing a sample of a metal of known purity to marks made by a metal of unknown purity. The method is accurate enough in the case of determining the purity of gold that it is still in use today. Figurative use extended from this literal use, with touchstone functioning as a word for a test or criterion to determine the quality of a thing, and later to refer to a fundamental or quintessential part or feature of something.

Examples of touchstone in a Sentence

Good service is one touchstone of a first-class restaurant. his book has long been a touchstone for travel writing that aspires to be literature
Recent Examples on the Web But presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such suggestions, telling reporters on Friday that little could eclipse such an important touchstone for Russians. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, 7 May 2022 Fifty years ago, the designer—who, despite having never stomped a divot in his life, had named his brand Polo—emblazoned a two-button cotton-interlock shirt with a galloping jockey, transforming an athletic anachronism into a sartorial touchstone. Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, 26 Apr. 2022 Traditionally considered an admirable attribute, the ability to empathize with another's plight has become a touchstone for GOP opposition to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Lisa Mascaro, ajc, 25 Mar. 2022 Traditionally considered an admirable attribute, the ability to empathize with another’s plight has become a touchstone for GOP opposition to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Lisa Mascaro,, 25 Mar. 2022 Others will note that the Reagan decade has become a trite touchstone for forward-thinking artists making plays for radio—check out Mitski’s and The Weeknd’s 2022 albums. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 18 Mar. 2022 The series has become a cultural touchstone, especially for Black women who have seen versions of themselves reflected in the unpacking of the beauty and messiness and complexities of young adulthood and relationships. Anika Reed, USA TODAY, 27 Dec. 2021 Star Trek became such a totemic cultural touchstone because of its enormous viewership, built up at a time when there were far fewer options to choose from on television. Chris Stokel-walker, Wired, 19 Nov. 2021 For black folks in America, Coming to America is such a big pop-culture touchstone. Jason Newman, Rolling Stone, 4 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'touchstone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of touchstone

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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The first known use of touchstone was in 1530

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Dictionary Entries Near touchstone

touch spot


touch/strike/hit a raw nerve

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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Touchstone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of touchstone for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about touchstone


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