key ( keys plural & 3rd person present) ( keying present participle) ( keyed past tense & past participle )
1 n-count A key is a specially shaped piece of metal that you place in a lock and turn in order to open or lock a door, or to start or stop the engine of a vehicle.
They put the key in the door and entered...
2 n-count The keys on a computer keyboard or typewriter are the buttons that you press in order to operate it.
3 n-count The keys of a piano or organ are the long narrow pieces of wood or plastic that you press in order to play it.
4 n-var In music, a key is a scale of musical notes that starts on one specific note.
...the key of A minor.
5 n-count The key on a map or diagram or in a technical book is a list of the symbols or abbreviations used and their meanings.
You will find a key at the front of the book.
6 adj The key person or thing in a group is the most important one.
He is expected to be the key witness at the trial...
7 n-count The keyto a desirable situation or result is the way in which it can be achieved.
usu N to n
The key to success is to be ready from the start...
master key key in phrasal verb If you key something in, you put information into a computer or you give the computer a particular instruction by typing the information or instruction on the keyboard.
(=type in) Brian keyed in his personal code. V P n (not pron), Also V n P
function key ( function keys plural ) Function keys are the keys along the top of a computer keyboard, usually numbered from F1 to F12. Each key is designed to make a particular thing happen when you press it. (COMPUTING) n-count
Just hit the F5 function key to send and receive your e-mails.
hot key ( hot keys plural ) A hot key is a key, or a combination of keys, on a computer keyboard that you can press in order to make something happen, without having to type the full instructions. (COMPUTING) n-count
key card ( key cards plural ) A key card is a small plastic card which you can use instead of a key to open a door or barrier, for example in some hotels and car parks. n-count
key player ( key players plural ) The key players in a particular organization, event, or situation are the most important people or things involved in it. n-count
The former chairman was a key player in the deals that pushed the bank to the top.
key ring ( key rings plural ) , keyring A key ring is a metal ring which you use to keep your keys together. You pass the ring through the holes in your keys. n-count
If you say that something is low-key, you mean that it is on a small scale rather than involving a lot of activity or being made to seem impressive or important. adj
The wedding will be a very low-key affair..., He wanted to keep the meetings low-key.
master key ( master keys plural ) A master key is a key which will open all the locks in a set, even though each lock has its own different key. n-count
When music is off-key, it is not in tune. adj
(=out of tune)
...wailing, off-key vocals and strangled guitars...
Off-key is also an adverb., adv ADV after v
(=out of tune)
Moe was having fun banging the drums and singing off-key.
skeleton key ( skeleton keys plural ) A skeleton key is a key which has been specially made so that it will open many different locks. n-count