Acid Test

Meaning of “Acid Test”

An acid test is a complete, thorough, and comprehensive test which gives correct and final results without raising any controversy, dispute, or doubts. It is an unquestionable answer or result of a test taken or given to evaluate something if it is a truth or false, good or bad and if something will work or fail.

Origin of “Acid Test”

This phrase is derived from the tests that the goldsmiths used during the 18th century to check the purity of gold. It was the test based on putting gold in nitric acid that dissolves every other metal except gold. Therefore, it was called an acid test and considered a touchstone in testing gold and its purity. However, the phrase’s earlier use has been traced to an American paper published in Wisconsin, The Columbia Reporter, in its publication of 1845. It goes thus; “Twenty-four years of service demonstrates his ability to stand the acid test, as Gibson’s Soap Polish has done for over thirty years.”

Although it has been used in a different sense during the 60s when Ken Kesey and Merry Pranksters used it in San Francisco. It was then a test possibly of “survival” as Jefferson Airplane’s song went viral in 1965 says:

“Since the acid test…

They say your drummer he’s crazy as a loon.” (From A Song for All Seasons)

Examples in Literature

Examples #1

Acid Test by Sunday Igwebuike

“Late night the ant approached, His bosom friend tortoise, Hey I have killed a man, By misfiring, Lead me to the king. Tortoise jumped his own fence. Spider a casual friend overhead the talk, And agreed to go. They matched the thick dark forest, No trace of evidence, A test of comrade, Ant muttered to himself! As the ant was embarking on his frequent travels, There was tortoise chained to a tree, By his in-law, For being a bad debtor, The ant returned, After some exchanges, Tortoise drenched in the weather, The daughter was holding ant’s legs, That ant should do something. Tortoise could not lift his head. Later the ant called, And the matter was settled! The test of friendship, Is to lend a hand!”

This a narrative poem or fable presents animals to show how friendship is tested. The story of an ant, a tortoise, and a spider show that the use of this phrase “acid test” as an evaluating yardstick is valid in friendship, too. As the gold shows purity through this test, a friend shows sincerity helping his friend. Therefore, the title of the poem proves to these meanings.

Examples #2

Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal by Tom Shroder

Acid Test is a good work by Shroder about Ecstasy or MDMA, a medicine used for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The book has discussed the main ingredients of these medicines and its likely impacts on the patients who have PTSD. Tom Shroder has used very good stories to show that though these medicines are undergoing a trial by a federal agency for approval, they have shown good impacts on the life of some persons. This is a very informative book which has shown the use of this phrase for life-saving drugs.

Examples #3

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

This non-fiction book by Tom Wolfe throws light on the travel of Keny Kesey and his band on a painted bus. The interesting thing about this band is that that they always have the next destination as “further” painted on their bus like that of the truck art in Pakistan. Merry Pranksters exhibited ethos of this band using various types of drugs used by psychedelic patients. The groups’ meetings with popular people of that time, the life of Kesey and other members and their arrests became the part of this narrativized non-fictive life of the band. The use of the phrase in its title shows how they used to test the loyalty of other members and fans.

Examples #4

Acid Test by Anya Reiss

This feministic romance comprises the story of three girls who want to enjoy life at Jess, but her Dad throws them out. The story revolves around their love affairs, alcoholic life, and infidelity with each other. Ruth attacks her boyfriend; Dana slurs her boss while Jess takes back to her father, which breaks up this trio of friends. However, in-between the novel, there are scenes of comedy and tragedy associated with the lives of all these three major characters. The title has been explained through their lines that fault lines in friendships lead to acid tests where loyalty is checked.

Example #5

The Acid Test – translated by Frederick Adam Wright

With jealous tears your eyes are wet,
You kiss and squeeze, you gaze and sigh:
But when I say, “I’m waiting yet,”
Behold Love’s flood falls strangely dry.

This short poem is an explanation of this phrase “acid test” which proves that love knows no boundaries and that it becomes entirely dry when expressed as the classical poet Philodemus has described in this terse poem translated by Adam Wright.

Examples in Sentences as Literary Devices

Example #1: “His proven skills show that he has gone through an acid test.” Here the phrase has been used in a metaphorical sense, as it has been implicitly compared to skills of the person in question.

Example #2: “He has developed a yardstick in evaluating teaching skills of the faculty, which are acid tests for the candidates.” Here the phrase has been used in a metaphorical sense, as it has been compared to the yardstick that the person in question has developed.

Example #3:  “They want to develop an acid test to test acid.” This phrase has been used as a chiasmus.

Example #4: Fiona’s ideas were like the acid test. We’ll know if she was right or wrong if it works.

Example #5: Any difficult task at the office is like an acid test to an employee.