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!
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
By also invoking Emmett Till, one of the touchstones of the civil rights era's heroic period, James consciously linked the Black Lives Matter generation to the struggles and travails of an earlier period.
Five years later, Union JACK is still selling a version of this Britain: a weird and wacky island with certain cultural touchstones that everyone, Brexiteers and Remoaners alike, can love and share: tea, queuing, The Great British Bake Off.
In a divisive era, Kennedy continues as a touchstone despite being a scion of a family of liberal Democrats who have populated American politics for nearly three generations.
The first death Dr. Green oversaw remains her touchstone.
As the show's survivors run from place to place, beating back threat after escalating threat, Maggie has become a touchstone for humanity and pragmatism in an increasingly ruthless narrative.
Since then, Tesla has become a pop-culture touchstone for both scientific invention and conspiracy theory.
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
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