Cornerstone Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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In the English language, there are a large number of words that we see everyday — even if we don’t necessarily understand them.

When you learn how to use context clues in conversations, it makes it much easier to correctly assess the meaning of a word.

Cornerstone is a term that can refer to a variety of things. It can describe the lowest stone on the exterior corner of a building or the symbolic foundation for other ideas and beliefs. A cornerstone can also be someone’s guiding philosophy.

This is everything you need to know about the definition of cornerstone in modern American English, where the word comes from, and its rich history!

What Is the Definition of the Word Cornerstone? 

In its most literal sense, the term cornerstone (ˈkɔrnərˌstoʊn, cor-ner-stone) refers to the first stone placed in the construction of a building. This word can represent either a building’s foundation or a pillar that forms part of an arch. 

The word comes from Old English and has its roots in classical Latin. It has been used since the 14th century, but it likely dates back even further.

It’s important to note that although cornerstone is sometimes used interchangeably with cornerstone-stone — a stone used as a marker for something else. 

The two words are not precisely synonymous when referring to buildings (although they may be used interchangeably when talking about other things). 

What Are Other Meanings of Cornerstone?

A cornerstone usually only refers to one large rock used as a marker somewhere on-site. When discussing buildings, a cornerstone typically refers more generally to any foundational stone, such as those found at ground level or embedded within walls.

Cornerstones are typically found in intersecting walls since those are the most foundational parts of a building. When masonry walls were being constructed, the cornerstone needed to be strong enough to hold up the rest of the building so there weren’t any unnecessary structural issues. 

The word is also commonly used metaphorically when describing something foundational and critical to the whole. It is often the most basic part of a structure or idea upon which everything else is built. 

What Are the Synonyms for Cornerstone?

If you were to look in a thesaurus for word lists of synonyms, you would likely find words including: 

  • Fundament
  • Foundation stone
  • The thing of prime importance
  • Linchpin
  • Angulaire
  • Bedrock
  • Centerpiece
  • Keystone
  • Heart
  • Crux

What Does Cornerstone Mean in Architecture and Masonry?

In architecture and masonry, a cornerstone is a stone set in the corner of a building, often decorated with inscriptions and symbols. It may also serve as a foundation for other building materials.

The earliest surviving freestanding monumental stone constructions in the world are at Ggantija on the island of Gozo in Malta, an ancient temple complex built by farmers between c. 3600 BC and 2500 BC. These temples were constructed from tufa blocks cut to fit precisely into their stone grooves. 

The same technique was used in ancient Greece and Rome, but they were usually made of marble or soft stones like limestone. These stones would break easily when struck by an object falling from above, so they had to be bound together tightly with iron clamps called dowels to ensure that nobody got hurt!

Cornerstones in Philosophical and Religious Histories

The cornerstone metaphor is one of the most common metaphors for Christ in scripture. The word “cornerstone” appears eight times in the Bible, seven of which are found in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 118:22; 118:23; 144:1; Isaiah 28:16). 

In these passages, the psalmist refers to Jesus as the cornerstone or foundation stone upon which all other things rest.

Jesus Christ is also a cornerstone in Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:7. This passage says that believers are built up on God’s “foundation” or “cornerstone,” which is Jesus Himself (Ephesians 2:19-20). 

Furthermore, He serves as our foundation because He purchased us with His blood (1 Peter 1:19) and redeemed us from sin through His sacrificial death on our behalf (1 Corinthians 6:20).

What Are Some Example Sentences Using the Word Cornerstone?

One of the best ways to learn how to use a word effectively is by seeing it in use in example sentences. Here are some great examples of how you can use the phrase cornerstone in your daily conversations! 

The Polish and Portuguese leaders insisted that the cornerstone of democracy was giving people an equal say. 

The cornerstone of the whole argument set up by Mr. Piedra was that Wikipedia is a highly unreliable source of information for college essays.

The cornerstone of why I failed all of my Arabic quizzes is the fact that I can’t go to sleep at night.

My coder friends created the code for the website’s cornerstone of the word of the day feature.

The cornerstone of the house at the end of the street had crumbled, resulting in the entire house sagging to the left.

I had to do a speech on the cornerstone of Korean culture, but I didn’t know what to write it on! 


The word cornerstone is often used when talking about buildings or architecture. After all, cornerstones play an essential structural role, even though they aren’t visible from above ground level. It can also be used figuratively to refer to any person or thing that plays a vital role in some other context. 

We hope this article has provided insight into what cornerstones are and how they fit into our everyday lives! 

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Cornerstone definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Cornerstone Definition & Meaning |

Cornerstone – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms |