cornerstone

/kawr"neuhr stohn'/, n.
1. a stone uniting two masonry walls at an intersection.
2. a stone representing the nominal starting place in the construction of a monumental building, usually carved with the date and laid with appropriate ceremonies.
3. something that is essential, indispensable, or basic: The cornerstone of democratic government is a free press.
4. the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed: The cornerstone of his argument was that all people are created equal.
[1250-1300; ME; see CORNER, STONE]

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Ceremonial building block, dated or otherwise inscribed, usually placed in an outer wall of a building to commemorate its dedication.

Often the stone is hollowed out to contain newspapers, photographs, or other documents reflecting current customs, with a view to their historical use when the building is remodeled or demolished. Originally placed at a corner, the stone may today be placed elsewhere on the facade.

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      ceremonial (ceremonial object) building block, usually placed ritually in the outer wall of a building to commemorate its dedication. Sometimes the stone is solid, with date or other inscription. More typically, it is hollowed out to contain metal receptacles for newspapers, photographs, currency, books, or other documents reflecting current customs, with a view to their historical use when the building is remodeled or demolished.

      Until the development of modern construction, the stone was usually at a corner, possibly as the first of the foundation stones, and it was a real support. The modern cornerstone need not actually support, need not be positioned at a corner, and need not be part of the foundation; often it is placed ornamentally in the facade or in an interior wall or floor.

      From the original position and function of the cornerstone arose figures of speech in many languages referring to cornerstones or foundation stones of character, faith, liberty, or other excellences. Early customs connected with cornerstones were related to study of the stars and their religious significance. Buildings were laid out with astronomical precision in relation to points of the compass, with emphasis on corners. Cornerstones symbolized “seeds” from which buildings would germinate and rise.

      Various religious rituals and Bible references spread and perpetuated the cornerstone custom. Ceremonies have been marked with processions, sacrifices, sprinklings of blood and water, and wide participation by rulers, priests, and other dignitaries who used the mason's trowel, often made of gold or silver.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • cornerstone — ► NOUN 1) a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls. 2) a vital part or basis: sugar was the cornerstone of the economy …   English terms dictionary

  • cornerstone — I noun backbone, base, body, cardinal point, core, corpus, critical point, crucial point, crux, essence, essential matter, exigency, foundation, frame of reference, fundamental, gravamen, groundwork, heart, highlight, key, keynote, keystone,… …   Law dictionary

  • cornerstone — late 13c., from CORNER (Cf. corner) + STONE (Cf. stone). The figurative use is from early 14c. I endorse without reserve the much abused sentiment of Governor M Duffie, that Slavery is the corner stone of our republican edifice; while I repudiate …   Etymology dictionary

  • cornerstone — [n] vital element anchor, base, essential, foundation, key element, keystone, linchpin, main ingredient, mainspring, mainstay, pillar; concepts 442,826 …   New thesaurus

  • cornerstone — [kôr′nərstōn΄] n. [ME] 1. a stone that forms part of the corner of a building; esp., a foundation stone of this kind, often inscribed, laid at a ceremony that marks the beginning of building 2. the basic, essential, or most important part;… …   English World dictionary

  • Cornerstone — For other uses, see Cornerstone (disambiguation). Foundation stone redirects here. For the religious site, see Foundation Stone. Dedication stone redirects here. For the Aztec artifact, see Dedication Stone. A cornerstone with bronze relief… …   Wikipedia

  • cornerstone — UK [ˈkɔː(r)nə(r)ˌstəʊn] / US [ˈkɔrnərˌstoʊn] noun [countable] Word forms cornerstone : singular cornerstone plural cornerstones 1) the basic part of something, on which everything depends cornerstone of: Trust is the cornerstone of their marriage …   English dictionary

  • cornerstone — A large stone placed in the foundation at the main corner of a new building; it might form part of the end wall and part of a side wall, and so it would hold them together. Hence Eph. 2:20. The occurrences in the OT and NT of the word are mostly… …   Dictionary of the Bible

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