Definition of touchstone
- a touchstone film of that decade
- now considered a touchstone of the city's life
- —Michael Specter
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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
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.
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.
: something that is used to make judgments about the quality of other things
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