- An object designed to open and close a lock .
- An object designed to fit between two other objects ( such as a shaft and a wheel ) in a mechanism and maintain their relative orientation .
- A crucial step or requirement .
- A guide explaining the symbols or terminology of a map or chart; a legend .
- A guide to the correct answers of a worksheet or test .
- ( computing ) One of several small, usually square buttons on a typewriter or computer keyboard, mostly corresponding to text characters .
- ( music ) One of a number of rectangular moving parts on a piano or musical keyboard, each causing a particular sound or note to be produced .
- ( music ) One of various levers on a musical instrument used to select notes, such as a lever opening a hole on a woodwind .
- ( music ) A hierarchical scale of musical notes on which a composition is based
- ( historical ) A manual electrical switching device primarily used for the transmission of Morse code .
- ( cryptography ) A piece of information ( e.g. a passphrase ) used to encode or decode a message or messages .
- ( computing ) In a relational database, a field used as an index into another table ( not necessarily unique ) .
- ( computing ) A value that uniquely identifies an entry in an associative array .
- ( basketball ) The free-throw lane together with the circle surrounding the free-throw line, the free-throw lane having formerly been narrower, giving the area the shape of a skeleton key hole .
- ( biology ) A series of logically organized groups of discriminating information which aims to allow the user to correctly identify a taxon .
- ( slang ) kilogram
- Indispensable .
- Important, salient .
- To fit ( a lock ) with a key .
- To fit ( pieces of a mechanical assembly ) with a key to maintain the orientation between them .
- To mark or indicate with a symbol indicating membership in a class.
- 1996 January, Garden Dsign Ideas, second printing, Taunton Press, ISBN 1561580791, page 25,
- 2001, Bruce M. Metzger, The Bible in Translation, ISBN 0801022827, page 87,
- 2002, Karen Bromley, Stretching Students' Vocabulary, ISBN 0439288398, page 12,
- 2007, Stephen Blake Mettee, Michelle Doland, and Doris Hall, compilers, The American Directory of Writer's Guidelines, 6th ( "2007–2008" ) edition, ISBN 1884956580, page 757,
- ( telegraphy and radio telegraphy ) To depress ( a telegraph key ) .
- ( radio ) To operate ( the transmitter switch of a two-way radio ) .
- ( computing ) ( more usually to key in ) To enter ( information ) by typing on a keyboard or keypad .
- ( colloquial ) To vandalize ( a car, etc. ) by scratching with an implement such as a key .
- To link ( as one might do with a key or legend ).
- 1960, Richard L. Masland, "Classification of the Epilepsies", in Epilepsia, volume 1, page 516,
- 1976, Nicholas Askounes Ashford, Crisis in the Workplace: Occupational Disease and Injury, page 19:
- 2006, Deborah Blum, Mary Knudson and Robin Marantz Henig, A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers, page 63:
- ( intransitive ) ( biology, chiefly taxonomy ) To be identified as a certain taxon when using a key .
- Cotter ( kŏttẽr ), n.
1. A piece of wood or metal, commonly wedge-shaped, used for fastening together parts of a machine or structure. It is driven into an opening through one or all of the parts. [See Illust.] In the United States a cotter is commonly called a key.
2. A toggle.
- Key ( kē ), n. [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cæg.]
1. An instrument by means of which the bolt of a lock is shot or drawn; usually, a removable metal instrument fitted to the mechanism of a particular lock and operated by turning in its place.
2. A small device which is inserted into a mechanism and turned like a key to fasten, adjust, or wind it; as, “a watch key; a bed key; the winding key for a clock, etc.”
3. One of a set of small movable parts on an instrument or machine which, by being depressed, serves as the means of operating it; the complete set of keys is usually called the keyboard; as, “the keys of a piano, an organ, an accordion, a computer keyboard, or of a typewriter.” The keys may operate parts of the instrument by a mechanical action, as on a piano, or by closing an electrical circuit, as on a computer keyboard. See also senses 12 and 13.
4. A position or condition which affords entrance, control, pr possession, etc.; as, “the key of a line of defense; the key of a country; the key of a political situation”. Hence, that which serves to unlock, open, discover, or solve something unknown or difficult; as, “the key to a riddle; the key to a problem.” Similarly, see also senses 14 and 15.
Those who are accustomed to reason have got the true key of books. Locke.
Who keeps the keys of all the creeds. Tennyson.
5. That part of a mechanism which serves to lock up, make fast, or adjust to position.
6. ( Arch. ) A piece of wood used as a wedge. The last board of a floor when laid down.
7. ( Masonry ) A keystone. That part of the plastering which is forced through between the laths and holds the rest in place.
8. ( Mach. ) A wedge to unite two or more pieces, or adjust their relative position; a cotter; a forelock. See Illusts. of Cotter, and Gib. A bar, pin or wedge, to secure a crank, pulley, coupling, etc., upon a shaft, and prevent relative turning; sometimes holding by friction alone, but more frequently by its resistance to shearing, being usually embedded partly in the shaft and partly in the crank, pulley, etc.
9. ( Bot. ) An indehiscent, one-seeded fruit furnished with a wing, as the fruit of the ash and maple; a samara; -- called also key fruit.
10. ( Mus. ) A family of tones whose regular members are called diatonic tones, and named key tone ( or tonic ) or one ( or eight ), mediant or three, dominant or five, subdominant or four, submediant or six, supertonic or two, and subtonic or seven. Chromatic tones are temporary members of a key, under such names as “ sharp four,” “flat seven,” etc. Scales and tunes of every variety are made from the tones of a key. The fundamental tone of a movement to which its modulations are referred, and with which it generally begins and ends; keynote.
Both warbling of one song, both in one key. Shak.
11. Fig: The general pitch or tone of a sentence or utterance.
You fall at once into a lower key. Cowper.
12. ( Teleg. ) A metallic lever by which the circuit of the sending or transmitting part of a station equipment may be easily and rapidly opened and closed; as, “a telegraph key”.
13. any device for closing or opening an electric circuit, especially as part of a keyboard, as that used at a computer terminal or teletype terminal.
14. A simplified version or analysis which accompanies something as a clue to its explanation, a book or table containing the solutions to problems, ciphers, allegories, or the like; or ( Biol. ) a table or synopsis of conspicuous distinguishing characters of members of a taxonomic group.
15. ( Computers ) A word or other combination of symbols which serves as an index identifying and pointing to a particular record, file, or location which can be retrieved and displayed by a computer program; as, “a database using multi-word keys”. When the key is a word, it is also called a keyword.
Key bed. Same as Key seat. -- Key bolt, a bolt which has a mortise near the end, and is secured by a cotter or wedge instead of a nut. Key bugle. See Kent bugle. -- Key of a position or Key of a country. ( Mil. ) See Key, 4. -- Key seat ( Mach. ), a bed or groove to receive a key which prevents one part from turning on the other. -- Key way, a channel for a key, in the hole of a piece which is keyed to a shaft; an internal key seat; -- called also key seat. -- Key wrench ( Mach. ), an adjustable wrench in which the movable jaw is made fast by a key. -- Power of the keys ( Eccl. ), the authority claimed by the ministry in some Christian churches to administer the discipline of the church, and to grant or withhold its privileges; -- so called from the declaration of Christ, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. xvi. 19.
- Key v. t. [imp. & p. p. Keved ; p. pr. & vb. n. Keying.]
1. To fasten or secure firmly; to fasten or tighten with keys or wedges. Francis.
2. ( Computers ) To enter ( text, data ) using keys, especially those on a keyboard; to keyboard; as, “to key the data in by hand”.
3. To adjust so as to be maximally effective in a particular situation; -- of actions, plans, or speech; as, “to key one's campaign speech to each local audience”.
4. To furnish with a key or keys.
To key up. ( Arch. ) To raise ( the whole ring of an arch ) off its centering, by driving in the keystone forcibly. ( Mus. ) To raise the pitch of. Hence, ( fig. ), to produce nervous tension in; as, “the whole team was keyed up for the championship game”.
- key a. Essential; most important; as, “the key fact in the inquiry; the president was the key player inthe negotiations”.
- Quay n. [F. quai. See Key quay.] A mole, bank, or wharf, formed toward the sea, or at the side of a harbor, river, or other navigable water, for convenience in loading and unloading vessels. [Written also key.]
From Middle English keye, kaye, keiȝe, from Old English cǣġ, cǣġe, cǣga ( “key, solution, experiment” ), from Proto-Germanic *kēkaz ( “stake, post, pole” ), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵogh-, *ǵegh- ( “branch, stake, bush” ), related to Old English cǣggian ( “to lock, shut” ). Cognate with Scots key, kay ( “key” ), West Frisian kaai ( “key” ), North Frisian kay ( “key” ), Middle Low German kāk ( “whipping post, pillory” ), and perhaps to Middle Dutch keige ( “javelin, spear” ), Middle Low German keie, keige ( “spear” ) .
Variant of cay, from Spanish cayo .
Explanation of key by Wordnet Dictionary
Definition of key by GCIDE Dictionary