key meaning

[ ki: ] Pronunciation:   "key" in a sentence
  • Noun: key  kee
    1. Metal device shaped in such a way that when it is inserted into the appropriate lock the lock's mechanism can be rotated 
    2. One of several labelled buttons on a typewriter, computer keyboard, or keypad, used to enter a particular character or invoke a particular function 
    3. Something crucial for explaining
      "the key to development is economic integration" 
    4. Pitch of the voice
      "he spoke in a low key" 
    5. Any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music
      - tonality 
    6. A kilogram of a narcotic drug
      "they were carrying two keys of heroin" 
    7. A winged often one-seed indehiscent fruit as of the ash or elm or maple
      - samara, key fruit 
    8. A coral reef off the southern coast of Florida
      - cay, Florida key 
    9. (basketball) a space (including the foul line) in front of the basket at each end of a basketball court; usually painted a different colour from the rest of the court
      "he hit a jump shot from the top of the key"
      - paint 
    10. A list of answers to a test
      "some students had stolen the key to the final exam" 
    11. A list of words or phrases that explain symbols or abbreviations 
    12. A generic term for any device whose possession entitles the holder to a means of access
      "a safe-deposit box usually requires two keys to open it" 
    13. Mechanical device used to wind another device that is driven by a spring (as a clock)
      - winder 
    14. The central building block at the top of an arch or vault
      - keystone, headstone
    Adjective: key  kee
    1. Serving as an essential component
      - cardinal, central, fundamental, primal
    Verb: key  kee
    1. Identify as in botany or biology, for example
      - identify, discover, key out, distinguish, describe, name 
    2. Provide with a key
      "We were keyed after the locks were changed in the building" 
    3. Vandalize a car by scratching the sides with a key
      "His new Mercedes was keyed last night in the parking lot" 
    4. Regulate the musical pitch of 
    5. Harmonize with or adjust to
      "key one's actions to the voters' prevailing attitude"
    Noun: Key  kee
    1. United States lawyer and poet who wrote a poem after witnessing the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812; the poem was later set to music and entitled 'The Star-Spangled Banner' (1779-1843)
      - Francis Scott Key

    Sounds like: quay, cay, qi, Ki

    Derived forms: keying, keyed, keys, Keys

    See also: important, of import

    Type of: achene, attorney, building block, chord, coral reef, device, explanation, furnish, harmonise [Brit], harmonize, kg, kilo, kilogram, kilogramme [Brit, Cdn], lawyer, lever, list, listing, mechanical device, musical notation, pitch, poet, positive identification, provide, reconcile, render, space, supply, vandalise [Brit], vandalize

    Part of: action, action mechanism, arch, basketball court, Everglade State, FL, Florida, keyboard, Sunshine State

    Encyclopedia: Key Key, the Metal Idol

  • [American slang]
    n. a kilogram of cannabis.
    • You want a whole K?
    • Well, how much is a ki?

  • [Architecture]

    A wedge which passes through a hole in a projecting tenon to secure its hold.


    A piece of metal or wood which is inserted in a joint to prevent movement between adjacent surfaces.


    A piece inserted in the back of a board to prevent warping.


    The last board in a series of floorboards, tapering in shape, and serving to hold the others in place when driven home.


    The property of a material that facilitates the bonding of another material to it.


    The roughening on the underside of veneer or similar material to assist it in holding glue.


    The roughened surface on the back of tile or the like to assist it in holding mortar.


    In plastering or similar work, that part of the plastic material that is forced between and enters the holes in (or clings to the roughened surface of) the backing lath.


    A keystone.


    A groove cut in a surface into which fits a corresponding projection from a member above, as a keyed footing.


    A detachable metal instrument which operates a lock; it is inserted into the lock and moves a bolt, latch, or catch.

    key, 2

  • [Business]
    adjective, noun, verb

    adjective [usually before noun]

    most important; essential:

    Japan is a key market for us.

    We identified five key areas for investment.

    They emerged as a key player in the pharmaceuticals market.

    This project is key to our financial success.

    a key component of our strategy

    Thorough preparation is key.



    1 [C, usually sing.]

    a thing that makes you able to achieve or understand sth:

    In our industry, the key to success is minimizing costs.

    This plan holds (= is)the key to development in the region.

    ◆ (especially AmE) The key is to work as a team.

    The key lies in recognizing what's important.

    2 [C]

    any of the buttons that you press to operate a computer:

    Press the escape key to quit the program.

    verb key sth (in) | key sth (into sth)

    to put information into a computer using a keyboard:

    Key (in) your password.



    key sth to sth (usually be keyed to)

    to link sth closely to sth else:

    Pricing is keyed to value.

  • [Electronics]
    2. A projection or pin that guides the insertion of a plug-in component into a holder or socket.
    3. A digit or digits used to locate or identify a computer record (but not necessarily part of the record).
    4. A specialized hand-operated switch, used to make and break a circuit repetitively to form the dot and dash signals of Morse code telegraphy. Primarily of historical interest. Used by some amateur radio operators for hobby purposes.
    5. Slang for principal or main.

    keyboard An array of lettered or numbered, low-torque push buttons, used to enter information into a computer, telegraph, teletypewriter, or automatic control system.
  • key in:    1. key sth in • ke ...
  • on-key:    Adjective: on-keyI ...
  • s/key:    [Computer]<secu ...


    More:   Next
  1. we were thus the key to global security.
  2. i got into a real flap when i lost my keys.
  3. this is a key point that is often overlooked.
  4. don't butcher that song by singing off key.
  5. walkie-talkies would be issued to key people.

Related Words

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  10. key bolt meaning
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