litmus test

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From litmus + test.


litmus test (plural litmus tests)

  1. (chemistry) A simple test for the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, using litmus paper.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) Any test which produces a decisive result by measuring a single indicator.
    • 1940, Allison Danzig, "Leading Elevens Face Stern Threats in Saturday's Games," New York Times, 2 Oct., p. 27,
      Temple, under its new coach, Ray Morrison, formerly of Vanderbilt, will be put to the blue litmus test Friday night when it takes on Georgetown.
    • 1998, "Baby-Boomer Bonding," Newsweek, 16 Feb.,
      For good reasons or bad, early membership of the currency union has become the litmus test of being a "good European."
    • 2004, Matthew Cooper, "Candidates In the Wings," Time, 15 Nov.,
      He opposes a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—a litmus test for many social conservatives



  • "litmus test" at OneLook® Dictionary Search.
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987–1996.