litmus test

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litmus test

1. A chemical test used to determine acidity or alkalinity in a solution. The students performed a litmus test in class to learn whether the chemical solution was an acid or a base.
2. A test used to determine someone's true intentions or beliefs. I used his reaction to my favorite movie as a litmus test to determine if he was worth dating.
See also: litmus, test

litmus test

 
1. Lit. a test used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of chemical substances. (Acid turns litmus paper red and alkaline compounds turn it blue.) I used a litmus test to show that the compound was slightly acid.
2. Fig. a question or experiment that seeks to determine the state of one important factor. His performance on the long exam served as a litmus test to determine whether he would go to college. The amount of white cells in my blood became the litmus test for diagnosing my disease.
See also: litmus, test

a litmus test

JOURNALISM
COMMON If something is a litmus test of the quality or success of a particular thing, it is an effective way of proving it or measuring it. My personal litmus test when I have to decide whether to keep or discard something is whether or not I look at and enjoy it every day. The success of wind power represents a litmus test for renewable energy. Note: Litmus paper is used to test the acidity of substances. It turns red in acid conditions and blue in alkaline conditions.
See also: litmus, test
References in periodicals archive ?
We should also recall another admonition by Kasper to be wary of those who invoke this abstract Christ as an ideology to uphold as eternal the humanly-made structures of the church and who, in the process, mistake the fixed boundaries of litmus tests for the deeper Catholic truth that we are always on the way to Jesus Christ.
While denying that he has a litmus test on judges, pro-abortion Vice President and potential Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore made his intentions clear regarding Supreme Court appointments: they will support abortion.
CC President Don Hodel told The Washington Times he opposes such litmus tests, but he apparently relented a few days later due to rank-and-file pressure on the group's leaders to become more aggressive.
Safeguard against subjecting scientists to ideological or political litmus tests for advisory committees and civil service positions.
While each of us has our own litmus tests, my laundry list includes things like reining in federal spending, appointing judges, rebuilding the military, simplifying (and achieving fairness in) taxes, consistency in foreign policy, and returning to a government whose guidelines are defined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Political leaders and various other officials will review the concept, weighing it to see if it measures up as good public policy, good health policy, and according to whatever litmus tests they want to apply to it.