Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

Rosetta stone

noun
  1. 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.
  2. a clue, breakthrough, or discovery that provides crucial knowledge for the solving of a puzzle or problem.
Show More
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rosetta stone

Historical Examples of rosetta stone

  • If the Rosetta-stone idea had been introduced it would have defeated them, but entrails had no embarrassments for them.

    What Is Man? And Other Stories

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • This strong similitude,—as a Rosetta-stone,—led us to the first translation of the Architectural wonders.


British Dictionary definitions for rosetta stone

Rosetta stone

noun
  1. 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
Show More
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

Word Origin and History for rosetta stone

Rosetta Stone

n.

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rosetta stone in Culture

Rosetta stone

A stone discovered in Egypt (see also 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.

Show More

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.