• (n.) 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.
• (n.) An instrument which is turned like a key in fastening or
adjusting any mechanism; as, a watch key; a bed key, etc.
• (n.) 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.
• (n.) 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.
• (n.) That part of a mechanism which serves to lock up, make fast,
or adjust to position.
• (n.) A piece of wood used as a wedge.
• (n.) The last board of a floor when laid down.
• (n.) A keystone.
• (n.) That part of the plastering which is forced through between
the laths and holds the rest in place.
• (n.) A wedge to unite two or more pieces, or adjust their relative
position; a cotter; a forelock.
• (n.) 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,
• (n.) An indehiscent, one-seeded fruit furnished with a wing, as the
fruit of the ash and maple; a samara; -- called also key fruit.
• (n.) 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.
• (n.) The fundamental tone of a movement to which its modulations
are referred, and with which it generally begins and ends; keynote.
• (n.) Fig: The general pitch or tone of a sentence or utterance.
• (v. t.) To fasten or secure firmly; to fasten or tighten with keys