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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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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.
Liberals could not be confirmed, either, if Republican Senators applied an ideological litmus test. By offering what he calls "an olive branch" to the Republicans, Feingold says he is setting precedent for a progressive administration of the future.
Earlier this year, he even supported a Republican National Committee "litmus test" on partial-birth abortion, which would have denied party funding to candidates who didn't oppose the procedure.
Nicholson and his allies triumphed, but only alter Lambert and other Religious Right activists lofted a procedural vote on the issue that can be used as a litmus test in the coming inter-party infighting.
Some make that issue a litmus test for "good governance" or "governance best practices." That is: A split equals "best practice"; a non-split equals a palpable insensitivity to "good governance." And a non-split may engender a shareholder proposal reflecting that dichotomous view.
The matter does not permit a litmus test, cookie-cutter, or box-checking approach.
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.
Later in the program, Sam Donaldson asked Gore, "Are you telling us that you will use, as a litmus test, if you are president to appoint justices, your view of Roe v.