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  1. key
    IPA[kē]
  2. noun

    • 1. a small piece of shaped metal with incisions cut to fit the wards of a particular lock, which is inserted into a lock and turned to open or close it.

    • 2. a small, shaped metal implement for operating a switch in the form of a lock, especially one operating the ignition of a motor vehicle.

    • 3. short for key card

    • 4. an instrument for grasping and turning a screw, peg, or nut, especially one for winding a clock or turning a valve.

    • 5. a pin, bolt, or wedge inserted between other pieces, or fitting into a hole or space designed for it, so as to lock parts together.

    • 6. each of several buttons on a panel for operating a computer, typewriter, or telephone.

    • 7. a lever depressed by the finger in playing an instrument such as the organ, piano, flute, or concertina.

    • 8. a lever operating a mechanical device for making or breaking an electric circuit, for example in telegraphy.

    • 9. a thing that provides a means of gaining access to or understanding something:

      the key to Jack's behavior may lie submerged in his unhappy past
    • 10. an explanatory list of symbols used in a map, table, etc.

    • 11. a set of answers to exercises or problems.

    • 12. a word or system for solving a cipher or code.

    • 13. the first move in the solution of a chess problem.

    • 14. a field in a record which is used to identify that record uniquely.

    • 15. a group of notes based on a particular note and comprising a scale, regarded as forming the tonal basis of a piece or passage of music:

      the key of E minor
    • 16. the tone or pitch of someone's voice:

      his voice had changed to a lower key
    • 17. the prevailing tone or tenor of a piece of writing, situation, etc.:

      it was like the sixties all over again, in a new, more austerely intellectual key
    • 18. the prevailing range of tones or intensities in a painting:

      these mauves, lime greens, and saffron yellows recall the high key of El Greco's palette
    • 19. the dry winged fruit of an ash, maple, or sycamore maple, typically growing in bunches; a samara.

    • 20. the part of a first coat of wall plaster that passes between the laths and so secures the rest.

    • 21. the roughness of a surface, helping the adhesion of plaster or other material.

    • 22. the keyhole-shaped area marked on the court near each basket, comprising the free-throw circle and the foul line.

    adjective

    • 1. of paramount or crucial importance:

      she became a key figure in the suffragette movement

    verb

    • 1. enter or operate on (data) by means of a computer keyboard or telephone keypad:

      she keyed in a series of commands a hacker caused considerable disruption after keying into a vital database
    • 2. fasten (something) in position with a pin, wedge, or bolt:

      the coils may be keyed into the slots by fiber wedges
    • 3. roughen (a surface) to help the adhesion of plaster or other material.

    • 4. word (an advertisement in a particular periodical), typically by varying the form of the address given, so as to identify the publication generating particular responses.

    • 5. vandalize a car by scraping the paint from it with a key:

      somebody could key your car and not get punished
    • 6. be the crucial factor in achieving:

      Ewing keyed a 73–35 advantage on the boards with twenty rebounds
  3. Variation

    • n.: noun: key, plural noun: keys

    • v.: verb: key, 3rd person present: keys, gerund or present participle: keying, past tense: keyed, past participle: keyed

    • noun

      a bar on a vehicle to which something can be attached to pull it or be pulled.

      a coupler on a railroad car.

    • noun

      a small piece of shaped metal with incisions cut to fit the wards of a particular lock, which is inserted into a lock and turned to open or close it:

      a shaped metal implement for operating a switch in the form of a lock, especially one operating the ignition of a motor vehicle:

    • adjective

      of crucial importance:
    • verb

      enter or operate on (data) by means of a computer keyboard or telephone keypad:

      fasten (something) in position with a pin, wedge, or bolt:

    • adjective

      able to be connected by means of a plug:

      (of a module or software) able to be added to a system to give extra features or functions:

    • noun

      a plug-in module or plug-in software.

      an electric socket in a car park or garage for plugging in the block heater of a vehicle to prevent the engine from freezing.

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