acid test

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acid test

A conclusive or critical test, as used to determine the worth, quality, or effectiveness of someone or something. The phrase comes from the 19th-century practice of testing metals in nitric acid to determine if they contained gold. Restructuring the organization will be the acid test that determines whether or not it can survive the sudden downturn in the economy. The first game of the season will be an acid test of the team's head new coach. The acid test for the new manager will come in the form of healthcare open enrollment. We really need it to go smoothly this year.
See also: acid, test
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

acid test

Fig. a test whose findings are beyond doubt or dispute. The senator doesn't look too popular just now, but the acid test will be if he gets reelected.
See also: acid, test
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

acid test

A decisive trial to determine worth or quality, as in Exposure to brilliant sunlight is the acid test for showing this fabric won't fade. Alluding to a 19th-century chemical test for distinguishing gold from other metals, this term was used figuratively by the early 1900s.
See also: acid, test
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

the acid test

COMMON If you call something the acid test, it will prove how effective or useful something is. The acid test for the vaccine will be its performance in the south where the disease is more widespread. So far, I don't feel too bad but I'm waiting for my first really stressful day when things go wrong. That will be the real acid test. Note: Nitric acid can be used to test whether a metal is pure gold because it damages most metals but does not affect gold.
See also: acid, test
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

the acid test

a situation or event which finally proves whether something is good or bad, true or false, etc.
The original use of the phrase was to describe a method of testing for gold with nitric acid (gold being resistant to the effects of nitric acid).
1990 Which? These deals are designed to encourage impulse buying, so the acid test is whether you would have bought anyway.
See also: acid, test
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

the ˌacid ˈtest (of something)

(also the ˈlitmus test especially in American English ) a situation which finally proves whether something is good or bad, true or false, etc: They’ve always been good friends, but the acid test will come when they have to share a flat.Both these expressions originally referred to chemical tests. The acid test uses nitric acid to test if something is made of gold. The litmus test uses litmus paper to test for acids and alkalis.
See also: acid, test
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

acid test, the

A conclusive trial to establish the truth or worth of something or someone. The term comes from a test long used to distinguish gold from copper or some other metal. Most corrosive acids do not affect gold, but a solution of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid dissolves the metal. Used literally by jewelers in the late nineteenth century, the term soon was employed figuratively, by U.S. president Woodrow Wilson among others.
See also: acid
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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