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etched in stone

Permanently fixed or firmly established; not subject to any amendment or alteration. Often used in the negative. The deal isn't yet etched in stone, but we're confident it will go ahead as hoped.
See also: etch, stone

etch something in(to) something

 and etch something in
to erode a design or message into something, usually with acid. They etched their family crest into their good crystal. He etched in his initials.
See also: etch

cast in stone

Also, etched in stone. Definite, fixed, as in We may choose to stay longer-our plans aren't cast in stone, or When Carl sets an agenda you can safely assume it's etched in stone. Both expressions allude to sculpture, with the first, from the early 1500s, using the verb cast in the sense of pouring and hardening some material into a final form, and the second cutting or corroding a permanent design.
See also: cast, stone
References in periodicals archive ?
The new tool, the Aspen LiteEtch TSE, etches transistor isolation layers on advanced DRAM, SRAM, flash, microprocessor and logic devices.
Another facet of the program is to develop processes for advanced self-aligned contacts and high aspect ratio etches using conventional films.