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[tuhch-stohn] /ˈtʌtʃˌstoʊn/
a test or criterion for the qualities of a thing.
a black siliceous stone formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal.
Origin of touchstone
First recorded in 1475-85; touch + stone
1. standard, measure, model, pattern. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for touchstone
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Fictions or realities, could they survive the touchstone of this atom of common sense?

    The Uncommercial Traveller Charles Dickens
  • Descartes therefore made evidence the touchstone of certainty.

  • I shall have a double respect for his opinion, for this is the touchstone of a man's honesty.

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • For Vere's eyes were surely a touchstone to discover honesty.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • The answer does not satisfy Socrates, who fears that he is losing his touchstone.

    Gorgias Plato
British Dictionary definitions for touchstone


a criterion or standard by which judgment is made
a hard dark siliceous stone, such as basalt or jasper, that is used to test the quality of gold and silver from the colour of the streak they produce on it
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 touchstone

late 15c., from touch (v.) + stone (n.). Black quartz, used for testing the quality of gold and silver alloys by the color of the streak made by rubbing them on it. Cf. also basalt. Figurative sense is from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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