key

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 [ˈkiː]



WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
key1 /ki/USA pronunciation   n., pl.  keys, adj., v.,  keyed, key•ing. 
n. [countable]
  1. Buildinga small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt:the house keys.
  2. any of various devices resembling or functioning as a key:The key of an old-fashioned clock is used to wind it up.
  3. something that provides a means to achieve, become skilled at, or understand something else:the key to a secret code; the key to happiness.
  4. a book or other text containing the solutions or answers for material given elsewhere, as testing exercises.
  5. an explanation of abbreviations, symbols, and the like used in a dictionary, map, etc.:a pronunciation key.
  6. Computingone of the buttons or levers on the keyboard of a typewriter, computer, piano, or the like, that are pressed to operate the device.
  7. Music and Dance
    • the principal tonality of a piece of music:a symphony in the key of C minor.
  8. mood or characteristic style, as of expression or thought:He writes in a melancholy key.
  9. Electricity
    • a hand-operated switching device capable of switching one or more parts of a circuit.

adj. [before a noun]
  1. chief;
    major;
    essential;
    crucial;
    fundamental;
    pivotal:a key industry.

v. 
  1. to bring into a state of agreement, conformity, or harmony;
    coordinate:[+ object]The commercials should be keyed to the audience who will be viewing them.
  2. Music and Dance[+ object] to regulate the musical pitch of.
  3. to set with or as if with a key:[+ object]He keyed the alarm.
  4. Computingto type (data) into a computer: [+ in + object]He keyed in all the data.[+ object + in]He keyed the data in.
  5. key (in) on, [+ in + on + object] to single out as important:The basketball team keyed in on their opponent's star player.

key2 /ki/USA pronunciation   n.[countable]pl.  keys. 
  1. Geographya reef or low island;
    cay.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2019
key1  (kē),USA pronunciation  n., pl.  keys, adj., v.,  keyed, key•ing. 
n. 
  1. a small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt.
  2. any of various devices resembling or functioning as a key:the key of a clock.
  3. See  key card. 
  4. something that affords a means of access:the key to happiness.
  5. something that secures or controls entrance to a place:Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean.
  6. something that affords a means of clarifying a problem.
  7. a book, pamphlet, or other text containing the solutions or translations of material given elsewhere, as testing exercises.
  8. a systematic explanation of abbreviations, symbols, etc., used in a dictionary, map, etc.:pronunciation key.Cf. legend (def. 4).
  9. Cryptographythe system, method, pattern, etc., used to decode or decipher a cryptogram, as a code book, machine setting, or key word.
  10. Computingone of a set of marked parts, designated areas, or levers pressed in operating a typewriter, computer terminal, calculator, etc.
  11. Telecommunicationsa manually operated lever for opening and closing an electric circuit, used to produce signals in telegraphy.
  12. Music and Dance
    • (in a keyboard instrument) one of the levers that when depressed by the performer sets in motion the playing mechanism.
    • (on a woodwind instrument) a metal lever that opens and closes a vent.
    • the relationship perceived between all tones in a given unit of music and a single tone or a keynote;
      tonality.
    • the principal tonality of a composition:a symphony in the key of C minor.
    • the keynote or tonic of a scale.
  13. tone or pitch, as of voice:to speak in a high key.
  14. mood or characteristic style, as of expression or thought:He writes in a melancholy key.
  15. degree of intensity, as of feeling or action.
  16. Mechanical Engineeringa 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.
  17. Mechanical Engineeringa 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.
  18. a contrivance for grasping and turning a bolt, nut, etc.
  19. Computinga 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.
  20. Business(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.
  21. Electricity
    • a device for opening and closing electrical contacts.
    • a hand-operated switching device ordinarily formed of concealed spring contacts with an exposed handle or push button, capable of switching one or more parts of a circuit.
  22. Biologya systematic tabular classification of the significant characteristics of the members of a group of organisms to facilitate identification and comparison.
  23. Building, Architecture[Masonry.]a keystone.
  24. Architecture(in a ribbed vault) a stone, as a boss, at the intersection of two or more ribs.
  25. Building[Masonry, Carpentry.]a wedge, as for tightening a joint or splitting a stone or timber.
  26. Building[Carpentry.]a small piece of wood set into a timber across the grain to prevent warping.
  27. Buildingany grooving or roughness applied to a surface to improve its bond with another surface.
  28. Sport[Basketball.]keyhole (def. 2).
  29. Photographythe 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.
  30. Fine Art[Painting.]the tonal value and intensity of a color or range of colors:Rembrandt's colors are characterized by their low key.
  31. Botanya samara.
  32. Government(cap.) a member of the House of Keys.
  33. Religionkeys, spiritual authority.
  34. power of the keys, the authority of a pope in ecclesiastical matters, vested in him as successor of St. Peter.

adj. 
  1. chief;
    major;
    important;
    essential;
    fundamental;
    pivotal:a key person in the company; key industries.

v.t. 
  1. 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.
  2. Music and Danceto regulate the key or pitch of.
  3. Fine Art[Painting.]
    • to paint (a picture) in a given key.
    • to adjust the colors in (a painting) to a particular hue:He keyed the painting to brown.
  4. Mechanical Engineeringto fasten, secure, or adjust with a key, wedge, or the like, as parts of a mechanism.
  5. to provide with a key.
  6. Journalism(in the layout of newspapers, magazines, etc.) to identify, through signs or symbols, the positions of illustrations or pieces of copy in a dummy.
  7. to lock with or as if with a key.
  8. Building[Masonry.]to provide (an arch or vault) with a keystone.
  9. Computingkeyboard (def. 4).

v.i. 
  1. to use a key.
  2. Computingkeyboard (def. 4).
  3. Computingkey in, keyboard (def. 4).
  4. Sportkey on: 
    • Sport[Football.]to watch the position and movements of an opponent in order to anticipate a play:The defensive backs keyed on the star receiver.
    • Also,  key in on. to single out as of prime importance or interest;
      be intent on or obsessed with:a company that is keyed in on growth.
  5. key up: 
    • to bring to a particular degree of intensity of feeling, excitement, energy, nervousness, agitation, etc.:keyed up over the impending test.
    • to raise (a piece of masonry) by the insertion of a wedge or wedges.
    • to raise (the haunches of an arch) by the insertion of a voussoir.
  • bef. 900; Middle English key(e), kay(e), Old English cǣg, cǣge; cognate with Old Frisian kei, kai
    • 6.See corresponding entry in Unabridged answer, explanation, resolution, clue.

key2  (kē),USA pronunciation n., pl.  keys. 
  • Geographya reef or low island;
    cay.
    • Arawak
    • Spanish cayo, probably
    • 1690–1700

    key3  (kē),USA pronunciation n., pl.  keys. [Slang.]
  • Slang Termsa kilogram of marijuana or a narcotic drug.
    • shortening and respelling, respelled of kilogram 1965–70, American.

    Key  (kē),USA pronunciation n. 
  • BiographicalFrancis Scott, 1780–1843, U.S. lawyer: author of The Star-Spangled Banner.


  • Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    key /kiː/ n
    1. a metal instrument, usually of a specifically contoured shape, that is made to fit a lock and, when rotated, operates the lock's mechanism
    2. any instrument that is rotated to operate a valve, clock winding mechanism, etc
    3. a small metal peg or wedge inserted into keyways
    4. any of a set of levers operating a typewriter, computer, etc
    5. 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
    6. Also called: tonality any of the 24 major and minor diatonic scales considered as a corpus of notes upon which a piece of music draws for its tonal framework
    7. the main tonal centre in an extended composition: a symphony in the key of F major
    8. something that is crucial in providing an explanation or interpretation
    9. a means of achieving a desired end: the key to happiness
    10. a means of access or control: Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean
    11. a list of explanations of symbols, codes, etc
    12. a text that explains or gives information about a work of literature, art, or music
    13. a hand-operated device for opening or closing a circuit or for switching circuits
    14. a hand-operated switch that is pressed to transmit coded signals, esp Morse code
    15. 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
    16. pitch: he spoke in a low key
    17. a characteristic mood or style: a poem in a melancholic key
    18. short for keystone
    19. any dry winged fruit, esp that of the ash
    adj
    1. of great importance; crucial: a key issue
    vb (mainly tr)
    1. (followed by to) to harmonize (with): to key one's actions to the prevailing mood
    2. to adjust or fasten with a key or some similar device
    3. to provide with a key or keys
    4. (also intr)
      another word for keyboard
    5. to include a distinguishing device in (an advertisement, etc), so that responses to it can be identified
    Etymology: Old English cǣg; related to Old Frisian kēi, Middle Low German keie spear

    ˈkeyless adj
    key /kiː/ n
    1. a variant spelling of cay



    'key' also found in these entries:
    Collocations: keyed his [car, truck], the [house, car, office] keys, off-key singing, more...

    Forum discussions with the word(s) "key" in the title:


    Look up "key" at Merriam-Webster
    Look up "key" at dictionary.com

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