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Rosetta stone

a stone slab, found in 1799 near Rosetta, bearing parallel inscriptions in Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphic, and demotic characters, making possible the decipherment of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
a clue, breakthrough, or discovery that provides crucial knowledge for the solving of a puzzle or problem. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Rosetta stone
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This stone was called the Rosetta stone, after the place where it was found.

  • Here are hieroglyphics in abundance, but no Rosetta stone supplies the key by whose aid a Champollion can unravel the mystery.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • It may do for comparative-historical linguistics what the Rosetta stone did for Egyptology.

    The Record of Currupira Robert Abernathy
  • From the circumstances of the discovery being near Rosetta it has always been known as the Rosetta stone.

  • These achievements were the decipherment of the Rosetta stone and the cuneiform writing.

    The Reign of the Manuscript Perry Wayland Sinks
  • That had become a language to which he had found the Rosetta stone; it was as plain to him now as Roman text.

    The Bondboy

    George W. (George Washington) Ogden
  • In 1821 came the decipherment of the Rosetta stone by Champollion, and this added a new zest to exploration and collecting.

  • In Egypt we have had the luck to stumble on a clew, the Rosetta stone, which makes the ancient writing fairly clear.

British Dictionary definitions for Rosetta stone

Rosetta stone

a basalt slab discovered in 1799 at Rosetta, dating to the reign of Ptolemy V (196 bc) and carved with parallel inscriptions in Egyptian hieroglyphics, demotic characters, and Greek, which provided the key to the decipherment of ancient Egyptian texts
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Rosetta stone

Rosetta Stone


discovered 1798 at Rosetta, Egypt; now in British Museum. Dating to 2c. B.C.E., its trilingual inscription helped Jean-François Champollion decipher Egyptian demotic and hieroglyphics in 1822, which opened the way to study of all early Egyptian records. Hence, figurative use of the term to mean "something which provides the key to previously unattainable understanding" (1902). The place name is the European form of Rashid, a name given because it was founded c.800 C.E. by Caliph Harun ar-Rashid.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Rosetta stone in Culture

Rosetta stone definition

A stone discovered in Egypt in the late eighteenth century, inscribed with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and a translation of them in Greek. The stone proved to be the key to understanding Egyptian writing.

Note: A “Rosetta stone” is the key to understanding a complex problem.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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