Language: Old English
Origin: cæg


2 noun
key2 S2 W3 [countable]


D a small specially shaped piece of metal that you put into a lock and turn in order to lock or unlock a door, start a car etc
house/car keys
I lost my house keys.
A bunch of keys hung from his belt.
key to
I can lend you a spare key to the store until you get one cut (=made).
! Do not say 'the key of' something. Say the key to something. master key

important part

the key

the part of a plan, action etc, that will make it possible for it to succeed
the key to
Working well as a team is the key to success.
a discovery that may hold the key to our understanding of the universe


APMT the buttons that you press on a computer keyboard to operate the computer:
Press the ESCAPE key to exit.
hot key/shortcut key (=a special key on a computer that does specific things)


a) [usually plural] the wooden or metal parts that you press on a piano and some wind instruments in order to play them:
piano keys
b) a scale of notes that begins with one particular note, or the quality of sound this scale has:
a tune in the key of A minor


a list of the signs, colours etc used on a map or technical drawing etc that explains what they mean


TC the printed answers to a test or set of questions in a book


[usually plural]SG a small flat island, especially one that is part of a group near the coast:
the Florida Keys

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