What does KEY mean?

Definitions for KEY

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word KEY.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. key(noun)

    metal device shaped in such a way that when it is inserted into the appropriate lock the lock's mechanism can be rotated

  2. key(noun)

    something crucial for explaining

    "the key to development is economic integration"

  3. key(noun)

    pitch of the voice

    "he spoke in a low key"

  4. key, tonality(noun)

    any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music

  5. key(noun)

    a kilogram of a narcotic drug

    "they were carrying two keys of heroin"

  6. samara, key fruit, key(noun)

    a winged often one-seed indehiscent fruit as of the ash or elm or maple

  7. Key, Francis Scott Key(noun)

    United States lawyer and poet who wrote a poem after witnessing the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812; the poem was later set to music and entitled `The Star-Spangled Banner' (1779-1843)

  8. key, cay, Florida key(noun)

    a coral reef off the southern coast of Florida

  9. key, paint(noun)

    (basketball) a space (including the foul line) in front of the basket at each end of a basketball court; usually painted a different color from the rest of the court

    "he hit a jump shot from the top of the key"; "he dominates play in the paint"

  10. key(noun)

    a list of answers to a test

    "some students had stolen the key to the final exam"

  11. key(noun)

    a list of words or phrases that explain symbols or abbreviations

  12. key(noun)

    a generic term for any device whose possession entitles the holder to a means of access

    "a safe-deposit box usually requires two keys to open it"

  13. winder, key(noun)

    mechanical device used to wind another device that is driven by a spring (as a clock)

  14. keystone, key, headstone(noun)

    the central building block at the top of an arch or vault

  15. key(adj)

    a lever (as in a keyboard) that actuates a mechanism when depressed

  16. cardinal, central, fundamental, key, primal(verb)

    serving as an essential component

    "a cardinal rule"; "the central cause of the problem"; "an example that was fundamental to the argument"; "computers are fundamental to modern industrial structure"

  17. identify, discover, key, key out, distinguish, describe, name(verb)

    identify as in botany or biology, for example

  18. key(verb)

    provide with a key

    "We were keyed after the locks were changed in the building"

  19. key(verb)

    vandalize a car by scratching the sides with a key

    "His new Mercedes was keyed last night in the parking lot"

  20. key(verb)

    regulate the musical pitch of

  21. key(verb)

    harmonize with or adjust to

    "key one's actions to the voters' prevailing attitude"


  1. Key(n.)

    any device for closing or opening an electric circuit, especially as part of a keyboard, as that used at a computer terminal or teletype terminal.

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  2. Key(n.)

    (Computers) A word or other combination of symbols which serves as an index identifying and pointing to a particular record, file, or location which can be retrieved and displayed by a computer program; as, a database using multi-word keys. When the key is a word, it is also called a keyword.

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  3. Key(n.)

    One of a set of small movable parts on an instrument or machine which, by being depressed, serves as the means of operating it; the complete set of keys is usually called the keyboard; as, the keys of a piano, an organ, an accordion, a computer keyboard, or of a typewriter. The keys may operate parts of the instrument by a mechanical action, as on a piano, or by closing an electrical circuit, as on a computer keyboard. See also senses 12 and 13.

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  4. Key(v. t.)

    (Computers) To enter (text, data) using keys, especially those on a keyboard; to keyboard; as, to key the data in by hand.

  5. Key(v. t.)

    To adjust so as to be maximally effective in a particular situation; -- of actions, plans, or speech; as, to key one's campaign speech to each local audience.

  6. Key(v. t.)

    To furnish with a key or keys.

  7. key(a.)

    Essential; most important; as, the key fact in the inquiry; the president was the key player inthe negotiations.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Key(noun)

    an instrument by means of which the bolt of a lock is shot or drawn; usually, a removable metal instrument fitted to the mechanism of a particular lock and operated by turning in its place

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  2. Key(noun)

    an instrument which is turned like a key in fastening or adjusting any mechanism; as, a watch key; a bed key, etc

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  3. Key(noun)

    that part of an instrument or machine which serves as the means of operating it; as, a telegraph key; the keys of a pianoforte, or of a typewriter

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  4. Key(noun)

    a position or condition which affords entrance, control, pr possession, etc.; as, the key of a line of defense; the key of a country; the key of a political situation. Hence, that which serves to unlock, open, discover, or solve something unknown or difficult; as, the key to a riddle; the key to a problem

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  5. Key(noun)

    that part of a mechanism which serves to lock up, make fast, or adjust to position

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  6. Key(noun)

    a piece of wood used as a wedge

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  7. Key(noun)

    the last board of a floor when laid down

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  8. Key(noun)

    a keystone

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  9. Key(noun)

    that part of the plastering which is forced through between the laths and holds the rest in place

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  10. Key(noun)

    a wedge to unite two or more pieces, or adjust their relative position; a cotter; a forelock

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  11. Key(noun)

    a bar, pin or wedge, to secure a crank, pulley, coupling, etc., upon a shaft, and prevent relative turning; sometimes holding by friction alone, but more frequently by its resistance to shearing, being usually embedded partly in the shaft and partly in the crank, pulley, etc

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  12. Key(noun)

    an indehiscent, one-seeded fruit furnished with a wing, as the fruit of the ash and maple; a samara; -- called also key fruit

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  13. Key(noun)

    a family of tones whose regular members are called diatonic tones, and named key tone (or tonic) or one (or eight), mediant or three, dominant or five, subdominant or four, submediant or six, supertonic or two, and subtonic or seven. Chromatic tones are temporary members of a key, under such names as " sharp four," "flat seven," etc. Scales and tunes of every variety are made from the tones of a key

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  14. Key(noun)

    the fundamental tone of a movement to which its modulations are referred, and with which it generally begins and ends; keynote

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  15. Key(noun)

    fig: The general pitch or tone of a sentence or utterance

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]

  16. Key(verb)

    to fasten or secure firmly; to fasten or tighten with keys or wedges

    Etymology: [OE. keye, key, kay, AS. cg.]


  1. Key

    Key is a Japanese visual novel studio which formed on July 21, 1998 as a brand under the publisher Visual Art's and is located in Kita, Osaka, Japan. Key released their debut visual novel Kanon in June 1999, which combined an elaborate storyline, an up-to-date anime-style drawing style, and a musical score which helped to set the mood for the game. Key's second game Air released in September 2000 had a similar if not more complex storyline to Kanon and a more thorough gameplay. Both Kanon and Air were originally produced as adult games, but Key broke this trend with their third title Clannad which was released in April 2004 for all ages. Key has worked in the past with Interchannel and Prototype for the consumer port releases of the brand's games. Key collaborated with ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Magazine to produce the mixed media project Angel Beats!, which was produced into an anime TV series in 2010. The brand's ninth game Rewrite was released in June 2011, and a fan disc for the game titled Rewrite Harvest festa! was released in July 2012. Co-founder Jun Maeda is a prominent figure in the brand, he having contributed on the planning, scenario, and music composition in the majority of Key's visual novels. Itaru Hinoue, also a co-founder, is Key's main artist and was the art director for Key's first three games. Na-Ga, another prominent artist in the brand, mainly worked with background art in earlier games, but with Key's sixth game Little Busters! was given the position of co-art director with Hinoue. Shinji Orito, Key's main composer and another co-founder, has composed music for the majority of Key's titles. Yūto Tonokawa, a scenario writer, first worked on the scenario in Little Busters!.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Key

    kē, n. an instrument for shutting or opening a lock: that by which something is screwed or turned: the middle stone of an arch: a piece of wood let into another piece crosswise to prevent warping: (mus.) one of the small levers in musical instruments for producing notes: the fundamental note of a piece of music: that which explains a mystery: a book containing answers to exercises, &c.—ns. Key′board, the keys or levers in a piano or organ arranged along a flat board; Key′-bū′gle, a bugle with keys, having a compass of two octaves including semitones.—adjs. Key′-cold (Shak.), cold as a key, lifeless; Keyed, furnished with keys, as a musical instrument: set to a particular key, as a tune.—ns. Key′hole, the hole in which a key of a door, &c., is inserted; Key′note, the key or fundamental note of a piece of music; any central principle or controlling thought; Key′-pin, the pivot on which a pipe-key turns: a pin serving as fulcrum for a key of an organ, &c.; Key′-plate, the escutcheon around a keyhole; Key′ring, a ring for holding a bunch of keys; Key′-seat, a groove for receiving a key, to prevent one piece of machinery from turning on another; Key′stone, the stone at the apex of an arch: the chief element in any system.—Have the key of the street (coll.), to be locked out: to be homeless; Power of the keys, the power to loose and bind, to administer ecclesiastical discipline—a special authority conferred by Christ on Peter (Matt. xvi. 19), or Peter in conjunction with the other apostles, and claimed by the popes as the alleged successors to St Peter. Others explain it as belonging only to the apostles themselves, as descending to the bishops and clergy of the Christian Church, or as belonging to all Christ's disciples alike. [A.S. cæg, a key.]

  2. Key

    kē, n. (Dryden). Same as Quay.

  3. Key

    kē, n. a low island near the coast.—Also Cay.

The Standard Electrical Dictionary

  1. Key

    A switch adapted for making and breaking contact easily when worked by hand, as a Morse telegraph key.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. key

    In ship-building, means a dry piece of oak or elm, cut tapering, to drive into scarphs that have hook-butts, to wedge deck-planks, or to join any pieces of wood tightly to each other. Iron forelocks.

  2. key

    [derived from the Spanish cayos, rocks]. What in later years have been so termed will be found in the old Spanish charts as cayos. The term was introduced to us by the buccaneers as small insular spots with a scant vegetation; without the latter they are merely termed sand-banks. Key is especially used in the West Indies, and often applied to the smaller coral shoals produced by zoophytes.

  3. key

    A long wharf, usually built of stone, by the side of a harbour, and having posts and rings, cranes, and store-houses, for the convenience of merchant ships.

  4. key

    [probably from the Dutch kaayen, to haul]. A place to which ships are hauled. Knoll or head of a shoal--kaya, Malay.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. key

    In artillery carriages, is a bolt used to secure cap squares and for analogous purposes.

Rap Dictionary

  1. key(noun)

    Kilo, often used in conjunction with cocaine. "Dope, like a pound or a key" -- N.W.A. (Compton's N the House).

Editors Contribution

  1. key

    I'm not sure, but isn't this: ¹ or this: * also called a key? When you're reading something that states anything, that of which is followed by a little number, (¹²³⁴, etc.) or an asterisk, (*) or has some other small symbol after it... & then you look elsewhere (usually on the bottom of the page) to find that same number or symbol, it then expands on what was said previously, where you saw the first symbol or little number. Isn't that ALSO called a key?

    Submitted by anonymous on December 26, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. KEY

    What does KEY stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the KEY acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.


  1. Key

    a tabular or other arrangement of species, genera or other classification according to characters that serve to identify them.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'KEY' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1372

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'KEY' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1642

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'KEY' in Nouns Frequency: #658

  4. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'KEY' in Adjectives Frequency: #162

How to pronounce KEY?

  1. Alex
    US English

How to say KEY in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of KEY in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of KEY in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of KEY in a Sentence

  1. Rwandan President Paul Kagame:

    The pressure is on to catch up and keep pace so Africa is not left in the wake of technological progress, we really cannot be satisfied with just ending extreme poverty. Our aim is shared and sustainable prosperity. And the key to that is science and innovation, bound by research.

  2. The RHONYstar:

    I think the key is to know and believe that someone is truly remorseful and somebody truly made a mistake, that there was no premeditation.

  3. Secretary Sylvia Burwell:

    As I travel the country, I consistently hear Americans say that they want Washington to build on the progress we have made to increase access to coverage, drive down the growth of health costs and improve the quality of care. Unfortunately, today's partisan effort in the House of Representatives to repeal key parts of the ACA, along with its effective defunding of Planned Parenthood, does the opposite.

  4. Ronald Reagan:

    Someone must stand up to those who say, Here's the key, there's the Treasury, just take as many of those hard-earned tax dollars as you want.

  5. Melissa Kahn:

    When you ask people about their key fears in retirement, the worry that they will outlive their money is always near the top of the list.

Images & Illustrations of KEY


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Translations for KEY

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    proceed or issue forth, as from a source
    • A. summon
    • B. abduct
    • C. emanate
    • D. render

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