Definitions for: Key

[n] metal device shaped in such a way that when it is inserted into the appropriate lock the lock's mechanism can be rotated
[n] a lever that actuates a mechanism when depressed
[n] mechanical device used to wind another device that is driven by a spring (as a clock)
[n] pitch of the voice; "he spoke in a low key"
[n] something crucial for explaining; "the key to development is economic integration"
[n] a list of words or phrases that explain symbols or abbreviations
[n] any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music
[n] a coral reef off the southern coast of Florida
[n] 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)
[n] one thousand grams; the basic unit of mass adopted under the System International d'Unites; "a kilogram is approximately 2.2 pounds"; "they were carrying two keys of heroin"
[adj] serving as an essential component; "a cardinal rule"; "the central cause of the problem"; "an example that was fundamental to the argument"; "computers are fundamental to modern industrial structure"
[adj] effective; producing a desired effect; "the operative word"
[v] harmonize with or adjust to; "key one's actions to the voters' prevailing attitude"
[v] regulate the musical pitch of
[v] identify as in botany or biology, for example
[v] vandalize a car by scratching the sides with a key"; "His new Mercedes was keyed last night in the parking lot"
[v] provide with a key; "We were keyed after the locks were changed in the building"

Webster (1913) Definition: Key (k[=e]), n. [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. c[ae]g.]
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. An instrument which is turned like a key in fastening or
adjusting any mechanism; as, a watch key; a bed key, etc.

3. That part of an instrument or machine which serves as the
means of operating it; as, a telegraph key; the keys of a
pianoforte, or of a typewriter.

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.

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) A piece of wood used as a wedge.
(b) The last board of a floor when laid down.

7. (Masonry)
(a) A keystone.
(b) That part of the plastering which is forced through
between the laths and holds the rest in place.

8. (Mach.)
(a) A wedge to unite two or more pieces, or adjust their
relative position; a cotter; a forelock. See Illusts.
of Cotter, and Gib.
(b) 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) 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.
(b) 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.

11. Fig: The general pitch or tone of a sentence or

You fall at once into a lower key. --Cowper.

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 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.
To fasten or secure firmly; to fasten or tighten with keys or
wedges. --Francis.

To key up.
(a) (Arch.) To raise (the whole ring of an arch) off its
centering, by driving in the keystone forcibly.
(b) (Mus.) To raise the pitch of.
(c) Hence, fig., to produce nervous tension in.

Key, n. (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; any device for closing or opening
an electric circuit.

Key, n.
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 a
table or synopsis of conspicuous distinguishing characters of
members of a taxonomic group.

Synonyms: cardinal, cay, central, describe, discover, distinguish, Florida keys, Francis Scott Key, fundamental, identify, important, key out, kg, kilo, kilogram, name, of import, operative, primal, significant, tonality, winder

Antonyms: atonalism, atonality

See Also: action, action mechanism, assort, attorney, backspace key, backspacer, chord, class, classify, command key, control key, coral reef, device, Everglade State, explanation, FL, Florida, furnish, harmonise, harmonize, hectogram, hg, ignition key, key word, keyboard, lawyer, lever, list, listing, master, master key, mechanical device, metric weight unit, musical notation, myg, myriagram, passe-partout, passkey, pitch, poet, provide, reconcile, render, return, return key, separate, shank, sort, sort out, space bar, stem, Sunshine State, supply, tab key, telegraph key, vandalise, vandalize, watch key, weight unit

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