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
3 : a black siliceous stone related to flint and formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the streak left on the stone when rubbed by the metal
touchstone was our Word of the Day on 12/14/2008. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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 of touchstone from the Web
The Emmy-winning comedy -- about a co-dependent woman, her gay best friend, martini-swilling assistant and wacky neighbor -- became a cultural touchstone during its eight-season run.
Like its counterparts across the country, the Bedford-Bedford Heights 4th of July Parade has all the cultural touchstones that symbolize our nation's path to independence.
The sale rankled some shareholders who see land as a cultural touchstone and a tangible asset the corporation could pass on to future generations.
While cartoons might be the most common surviving touchstone for the tech, these devices were plenty real, and their insides are actually quite interesting.
The blue-and-gold Faberge egg that Richard Burton once gave to Elizabeth Taylor has been a touchstone for the 31-year-old designer in the past.
These days, polymer clay is the medium of her choice, and her Mockingbird Studio Jewelry has become well-known for her trademarked line, Touchstone Beads and Pendants.
But the beer can remains on my dresser, a touchstone that always reminds me, fondly, of my father.
Their 11-2 loss before an announced crowd of 26,341 at Camden Yards had all the touchstones of the painful road trip that preceded it.
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.
Did You Know?
Our example sentence uses "touchstone" in its most recently acquired sense: "a fundamental part." The earlier sense, "a criterion for quality" (as in "I Love Lucy is often seen as a touchstone for comparison with today's TV comedy shows"), provides a better clue to the original meaning of "touchstone," however. The "criterion" sense, which goes back more than 470 years, alludes to a method of testing the purity of a sample of gold. The sample was rubbed on a piece of dark quartz or jasper - the "touchstone." The mark it made was compared to adjacent rubbings on the touchstone from gold of known purity. This method has proved accurate enough that touchstones are still used by jewelers today.
First Known Use of touchstone
Synonym Discussion of touchstone
TOUCHSTONE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of touchstone for English Language Learners
: something that is used to make judgments about the quality of other things
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up touchstone? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).