/ kiː; NAmE / noun , verb , adjective
TOOL FOR LOCK
a specially shaped piece of metal used for locking a door, starting a car, etc. :
to insert / turn the key in the lock
the car keys
a bunch of keys
the spare key to the front door
We'll have a duplicate key cut (= made) .
MOST IMPORTANT THING
[ usually sing. ] key (to sth) a thing that makes you able to understand or achieve sth
SYN secret :
The key to success is preparation.
The driver of the car probably holds the key to solving the crime.
( especially NAmE )
The key is , how long can the federal government control the inflation rate?
any of the buttons that you press to operate a computer or typewriter :
Press the return key to enter the information.
ON MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
any of the wooden or metal parts that you press to play a piano and some other musical instruments
—picture at saxophone
a set of related notes, based on a particular note. Pieces of music are usually written mainly using a particular key :
a sonata in the key of E flat major
—compare scale noun (7)
a set of answers to exercises or problems :
Check your answers in the key at the back of the book.
an explanation of the symbols used on a map or plan
—see also low-key
see lock noun
■ verb [ vn ]
key sth (in) | key sth (into sth) to put information into a computer using a keyboard
SYN enter :
Key (in) your password.
to deliberately damage a car by scratching it with a key
- key sb/sth to sth
[ usually before noun ] most important; essential
SYN critical , vital :
the key issue / factor / point
He was a key figure in the campaign.
She played a key role in the dispute.
'Caution' is the key word in this situation.
Good communication is key to our success.
His contribution could be key.
➡ note at main
Old English cǣg , cǣge , of unknown origin.