In a curved stone archway, the keystone is the one at the very center of the top. The keystone is the most important stone, and that's why this word is also used figuratively to mean the most important part of anything.

A stone arch or vault gains its stability from the placement of the keystone, which is often the last one placed. From this architectural meaning, keystone also gained the figurative meaning of "central or most important part," or "the one thing upon which everything else depends." Like an actual stone keystone, this type lends stability: "The right to free speech is the keystone of all American rights."

Definitions of keystone
  1. noun
    the central building block at the top of an arch or vault
    synonyms: headstone, key
    see moresee less
    coign, coigne, quoin
    the keystone of an arch
    type of:
    building block
    a block of material used in construction work
  2. noun
    a central cohesive source of support and stability
    “the keystone of campaign reform was the ban on soft money”
    synonyms: anchor, backbone, linchpin, lynchpin, mainstay
    see moresee less
    type of:
    something providing immaterial assistance to a person or cause or interest
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month