noun, plural keys.
a small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt.
any of various devices resembling or functioning as a key:
the key of a clock.
something that affords a means of access:
the key to happiness.
something that secures or controls entrance to a place:
Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean.
something that affords a means of clarifying a problem.
a book, pamphlet, or other text containing the solutions or translations of material given elsewhere, as testing exercises.
a systematic explanation of abbreviations, symbols, etc., used in a dictionary, map, etc.:
Compare (def 4).
the system, method, pattern, etc., used to decode or decipher a cryptogram, as a code book, machine setting, or keyword.
one of a set of marked parts, designated areas, or levers pressed in operating a typewriter, computer terminal, calculator, etc.
a manually operated lever for opening and closing an electric circuit, used to produce signals in telegraphy.
tone or pitch, as of voice:
to speak in a high key.
mood or characteristic style, as of expression or thought:
He writes in a melancholy key.
degree of intensity, as of feeling or action.
a pin, bolt, wedge, or other piece inserted in a hole or space to lock or hold parts of a mechanism or structure together; a cotter.
a small piece of steel fitting into matching slots of a hub of a wheel or the like and the shaft on which the wheel is mounted so that torque is transmitted from one to the other.
a contrivance for grasping and turning a bolt, nut, etc.
Computers. a field or group of characters within a record that identifies the record, establishing its position among sorted records, and/or provides information about its contents.
(in a series of advertisements or announcements soliciting replies) a unique code inserted for each medium used, to determine the relative effectiveness of the media.
Biology. a systematic tabular classification of the significant characteristics of the members of a group of organisms to facilitate identification and comparison.
Masonry. a keystone.
Architecture. (in a ribbed vault) a stone, as a boss, at the intersection of two or more ribs.
Masonry, Carpentry. a wedge, as for tightening a joint or splitting a stone or timber.
Carpentry. a small piece of wood set into a timber across the grain to prevent warping.
Building Trades. any grooving or roughness applied to a surface to improve its bond with another surface.
Basketball. (def 2).
Photography. the dominant tonal value of a picture, a high-key picture having light tonal values and minimal contrast and a low-key picture being generally dark with minimal contrast.
Painting. the tonal value and intensity of a color or range of colors:
Rembrandt’s colors are characterized by their low key.
Botany. a samara.
(initial capital letter) a member of the House of Keys.
keys, spiritual authority.
chief; major; important; essential; fundamental; pivotal:
a key person in the company; key industries.
verb (used with object), keyed, keying.
to regulate or adjust (actions, thoughts, speech, etc.) to a particular state or activity; bring into conformity:
to key one’s speech to the intellectual level of the audience.
Music. to regulate the key or pitch of.
to fasten, secure, or adjust with a key, wedge, or the like, as parts of a mechanism.
to provide with a key.
(in the layout of newspapers, magazines, etc.) to identify, through signs or symbols, the positions of illustrations or pieces of copy in a dummy.
to lock with or as if with a key.
Masonry. to provide (an arch or vault) with a keystone.
Computers. (def 4).
verb (used without object), keyed, keying.
to use a key.
Computers. (def 4).
key in, Computers. (def 4).
power of the keys, the authority of a pope in ecclesiastical matters, vested in him as successor of St. Peter.
noun, plural keys.
a reef or low island; cay.
noun, plural keys. Slang.
a kilogram of marijuana or a narcotic drug.
(Scot, dialect) a children’s cry for truce or respite from the rules of a game
a metal instrument, usually of a specifically contoured shape, that is made to fit a lock and, when rotated, operates the lock’s mechanism
any instrument that is rotated to operate a valve, clock winding mechanism, etc
a small metal peg or wedge inserted into keyways
any of a set of levers operating a typewriter, computer, etc
any of the visible parts of the lever mechanism of a musical keyboard instrument that when depressed set in motion the action that causes the instrument to sound
something that is crucial in providing an explanation or interpretation: the key to adult behaviour lies in childhood
a means of achieving a desired end: the key to happiness
a means of access or control: Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean
a list of explanations of symbols, codes, etc
a text that explains or gives information about a work of literature, art, or music
Also called key move. the correct initial move in the solution of a set problem
(biology) a systematic list of taxonomic characteristics, used to identify animals or plants
(photog, painting) the dominant tonal value and colour intensity of a picture See also low-key (sense 3), high-key
the grooving or scratching of a surface or the application of a rough coat of plaster, etc, to provide a bond for a subsequent finish
pitch: he spoke in a low key
a characteristic mood or style: a poem in a melancholic key
level of intensity: she worked herself up to a high key
(railways) a wooden wedge placed between a rail and a chair to keep the rail firmly in place
a wedge for tightening a joint or for splitting stone or timber
short for keystone (sense 1)
(botany) any dry winged fruit, esp that of the ash
(modifier) (photog) determining the tonal value of a photograph: flesh colour is an important key tone
of great importance; crucial: a key issue
verb (mainly transitive)
(foll by to) to harmonize (with): to key one’s actions to the prevailing mood
to adjust or fasten with a key or some similar device
to provide with a key or keys
to scratch the paintwork of (a car) with a key
(often foll by up) to locate the position of (a piece of copy, artwork, etc) on a layout by the use of symbols
(also intransitive) another word for keyboard (sense 3)
to include a distinguishing device in (an advertisement, etc), so that responses to it can be identified
to provide a keystone for (an arch)
a variant spelling of cay
John (Phillip). born 1961, New Zealand politician; prime minister from 2008
“metal piece that works a lock,” from Old English cæg “key,” of unknown origin, with no certain cognates other than Old Frisian kei. Perhaps related to Middle Low German keie “lance, spear” on notion of “tool to cleave with,” from Proto-Germanic *ki- “to cleaver, split” (cf. German Keil “wedge,” Gothic us-kijans “come forth,” said of seed sprouts, keinan “to germinate”). But Liberman writes, “The original meaning of *kaig-jo- was presumably ‘*pin with a twisted end.’ Words with the root *kai- followed by a consonant meaning ‘crooked, bent; twisted’ are common only in the North Germanic languages.” Modern pronunciation is a northern variant predominating from c.1700; earlier it was often spelled and pronounced kay.
Figurative sense of “that which serves to open or explain” was in Old English; meaning “that which holds together other parts” is from 1520s. As “answer to a test,” it is from chess, short for key move, “first move in a solution to a set problem.” Musical sense of “tone, note” is 15c., but modern sense of “scale” is 1580s, probably as a translation of Latin clavis or French clef (see clef; also cf. keynote). Extended c.1500 to “mechanism on a musical instrument.” As a verb meaning “to scratch (a car’s paint job) with a key” it is recorded by 1986.
“low island,” 1690s, from Spanish cayo “shoal, reef,” from Taino cayo “small island;” spelling influenced by Middle English key “wharf” (c.1300), from Old French kai “sand bank” (see quay).
The main or central note of a piece of music (or part of a piece of music). Each key has its own scale, beginning and ending on the note that defines the octave of the next scale. The key of C-major uses a scale that starts on C and uses only the white keys of the piano. In a piece composed in the key of C, the music is likely to end on the note C, and certain combinations of notes based on C will predominate.
To vandalize a car by scratching it with a key: Well, did you key her car? (1980s+)
A kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of a narcotic: enough opium to produce a key (kilo) of heroin/ Anybody who can handle a key of pure coke is dealing big
[Narcotics; fr kilo]
frequently mentioned in Scripture. It is called in Hebrew _maphteah_, i.e., the opener (Judg. 3:25); and in the Greek New Testament _kleis_, from its use in shutting (Matt. 16:19; Luke 11:52; Rev. 1:18, etc.). Figures of ancient Egyptian keys are frequently found on the monuments, also of Assyrian locks and keys of wood, and of a large size (comp. Isa. 22:22). The word is used figuratively of power or authority or office (Isa. 22:22; Rev. 3:7; Rev. 1:8; comp. 9:1; 20:1; comp. also Matt. 16:19; 18:18). The “key of knowledge” (Luke 11:52; comp. Matt. 23:13) is the means of attaining the knowledge regarding the kingdom of God. The “power of the keys” is a phrase in general use to denote the extent of ecclesiastical authority.
In addition to the idiom beginning with
noun, Shipbuilding. 1. any of various scarf joints in which the overlapping parts are keyed together.
[kech] /kɛtʃ/ noun, Nautical. 1. a sailing vessel rigged fore and aft on two masts, the larger, forward one being the mainmast and the after one, stepped forward of the rudderpost, being the mizzen or jigger. /kɛtʃ/ noun 1. a two-masted sailing vessel, fore-and-aft rigged, with a tall mainmast and a mizzen stepped forward of […]
[kee-tuh-meen, -min] /ˈki təˌmin, -mɪn/ noun, Pharmacology. 1. a synthetic nonbarbiturate general anesthetic, C 13 H 16 ClNO, used to induce anesthesia, alone or in combination, in surgical or diagnostic procedures of short duration; extensively used in veterinary medicine. /ˈkɛtəmiːn/ noun 1. a drug, chemically related to PCP, that is used in medicine as a […]
[kee-slot] /ˈkiˌslɒt/ noun 1. a short, curved cut into a shaft for a . Compare (def 1).