Definitions for key, bridge
The Standard Electrical Dictionary
A key for use with a Wheatstone Bridge, q.v. It is desirable to first send a current through the four arms of the bridge in using it for testing resistances and then through the galvanometer, because it takes a definite time for the current to reach its full strength. This is especially the case if the element being measured has high static capacity, as a long ocean cable. If the galvanometer connections were completed simultaneously with the bridge connections a momentary swing would be produced even if the arms bore the proper relation to each other. This would cause delay in the testing. A bridge key avoids this by first connecting the battery circuit through the arms of the bridge, and then as it is still further depressed the galvanometer circuit is completed.