a small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt.
any of various devices resembling or functioning as a key:
the key of a clock.
something that affords a means of access:
the key to happiness.
something that secures or controls entrance to a place:
Gibraltar is the key to the Mediterranean.
something that affords a means of clarifying a problem.
a book, pamphlet, or other text containing the solutions or translations of material given elsewhere, as testing exercises.
a systematic explanation of abbreviations, symbols, etc., used in a dictionary, map, etc.:
the system, method, pattern, etc., used to decode or decipher a cryptogram, as a code book, machine setting, or keyword.
one of a set of marked parts, designated areas, or levers pressed in operating a typewriter, computer terminal, calculator, etc.
a manually operated lever for opening and closing an electric circuit, used to produce signals in telegraphy.
- (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.
tone or pitch, as of voice:
to speak in a high key.
mood or characteristic style, as of expression or thought:
He writes in a melancholy key.
degree of intensity, as of feeling or action.
a 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.
a 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.
a contrivance for grasping and turning a bolt, nut, etc.
Computers. a 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.
(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.
- 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.
Biology. a systematic tabular classification of the significant characteristics of the members of a group of organisms to facilitate identification and comparison.
Architecture. (in a ribbed vault) a stone, as a boss, at the intersection of two or more ribs.
Masonry, Carpentry. a wedge, as for tightening a joint or splitting a stone or timber.
Carpentry. a small piece of wood set into a timber across the grain to prevent warping.
Building Trades. any grooving or roughness applied to a surface to improve its bond with another surface.
Photography. the 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.
the tonal value and intensity of a color or range of colors:
Rembrandt's colors are characterized by their low key.
(initial capital letter) a member of the House of Keys.
keys, spiritual authority.
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.
Music. to regulate the key or pitch of.
- 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.
to fasten, secure, or adjust with a key, wedge, or the like, as parts of a mechanism.
to provide with a key.
(in the layout of newspapers, magazines, etc.) to identify, through signs or symbols, the positions of illustrations or pieces of copy in a dummy.
to lock with or as if with a key.
Masonry. to provide (an arch or vault) with a keystone.