English dictionary

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English adjective: key

1. key serving as an essential component

SamplesA cardinal rule.
The central cause of the problem.
An example that was fundamental to the argument.
Computers are fundamental to modern industrial structure.

Synonymscardinal, central, fundamental, primal

Similarimportant, of import


English noun: key

1. key (artifact) metal device shaped in such a way that when it is inserted into the appropriate lock the lock's mechanism can be rotated

Broader (hypernym)device

Narrower (hyponym)ignition key, latchkey, master, master key, passe-partout, passkey

Part holonymbit, shank, stem

2. key (cognition) something crucial for explaining

SamplesThe key to development is economic integration.

Broader (hypernym)explanation

3. key (attribute) pitch of the voice

SamplesHe spoke in a low key.

Broader (hypernym)pitch

4. key (communication) any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music


Broader (hypernym)musical notation

Narrower (hyponym)home key, major key, major mode, minor key, minor mode, tonic key

Antonymsatonalism, atonality

5. key (quantity) a kilogram of a narcotic drug

SamplesThey were carrying two keys of heroin.

Broader (hypernym)kg, kilo, kilogram

Domain usageargot, cant, jargon, lingo, patois, slang, vernacular

6. key (plant) a winged often one-seed indehiscent fruit as of the ash or elm or maple

Synonymskey fruit, samara

Broader (hypernym)achene

7. Key (person) 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)

SynonymsFrancis Scott Key

Instance hypernymattorney, lawyer, poet

8. key (object) a coral reef off the southern coast of Florida

Synonymscay, Florida key

Broader (hypernym)coral reef

Part meronymEverglade State, FL, Florida, Sunshine State

9. key (location) (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

SamplesHe hit a jump shot from the top of the key.
He dominates play in the paint.


Broader (hypernym)space

Part holonymfoul line

Part meronymbasketball court

Domain categorybasketball, basketball game, hoops

10. key (communication) a list of answers to a test

SamplesSome students had stolen the key to the final exam.

Broader (hypernym)list, listing

11. key (communication) a list of words or phrases that explain symbols or abbreviations

Broader (hypernym)list, listing

Narrower (hyponym)key word

12. key (communication) a generic term for any device whose possession entitles the holder to a means of access

SamplesA safe-deposit box usually requires two keys to open it.

Broader (hypernym)positive identification

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


Broader (hypernym)mechanical device

Narrower (hyponym)watch key

14. key (artifact) the central building block at the top of an arch or vault

Synonymsheadstone, keystone

Broader (hypernym)building block

Narrower (hyponym)coign, coigne, quoin

Part meronymarch

15. key (artifact) a lever (as in a keyboard) that actuates a mechanism when depressed

Broader (hypernym)lever

Narrower (hyponym)backspace, backspace key, backspacer, command key, control key, return, return key, shift, shift key, space bar, tab, tab key, telegraph key

Part meronymaction, action mechanism

Member meronymkeyboard

English verb: key

1. key (cognition) identify as in botany or biology, for example

Synonymsdescribe, discover, distinguish, identify, key out, name

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Somebody ----s somebody.
Something ----s something

Entailassort, class, classify, separate, sort, sort out

2. key (possession) provide with a key

SamplesWe were keyed after the locks were changed in the building.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody

Broader (hypernym)furnish, provide, render, supply

3. key (contact) vandalize a car by scratching the sides with a key

SamplesHis new Mercedes was keyed last night in the parking lot.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)vandalise, vandalize

4. key (change) regulate the musical pitch of

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something PP

Broader (hypernym)chord, harmonise, harmonize

Domain categorymusic

5. key (change) harmonize with or adjust to

SamplesKey one's actions to the voters' prevailing attitude.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody PP

Broader (hypernym)harmonise, harmonize, reconcile

Based on WordNet 3.0 copyright © Princeton University.
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