Key | Definition, Etymology, Synonyms & Antonyms

Key

Key (noun)

Definition

  • A "key" can refer to a small, usually metal instrument that is inserted into a lock and turned to open or close it.
  • It can also be a crucial or essential element or factor that unlocks or provides access to something else.
  • In music, a "key" is a set of notes or scale upon which a piece of music is based, determining the tonality and harmony of the composition.
  • Additionally, "key" is used to describe the main or important scale or chord in a musical piece.

Etymology

The word "key" has its roots in Old English "cǣg," which meant a "metal piece for locking and unlocking." The term can be traced back to Proto-Germanic "kaigaz" and further to Proto-Indo-European "gheiḱ-," meaning "to fasten" or "to be closed."

Synonyms

  • Lock
  • Code
  • Solution
  • Clue
  • Guide

Antonyms

  • Barrier
  • Obstacle
  • Block
  • Hurdle
  • Restraint

Example

Emma was determined to solve the mystery her grandfather left behind. In the attic, she found an old chest with an intricate lock. She rummaged through his belongings until she discovered a small, antique key hidden in an old book. With trembling hands, she inserted the key into the lock, and with a gentle turn, the chest creaked open, revealing a collection of letters that led her on an unforgettable adventure into her family's past.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are "skeleton keys"?

"Skeleton keys" are older-style keys designed to fit a wide range of locks. They have a simple design and can open multiple locks within a specific type.

Can keys be copied?

Yes, most modern keys can be duplicated by locksmiths or key-cutting services. However, some high-security keys have patented designs and may require special authorization for duplication.

What is a "master key"?

A "master key" is a key that can open multiple locks within a specific system. It is often used in buildings with different access levels, allowing designated individuals to have access to multiple areas.

In music, how does a key affect a song?

The key in music determines the pitch center and tonality of a composition. It affects the emotional character and mood of the piece and influences the choice of notes, chords, and harmonies used.

Are electronic or digital keys common nowadays?

Yes, with advancements in technology, electronic or digital keys, such as key cards, key fobs, and electronic smart keys, have become increasingly popular for accessing buildings, vehicles, and other secure areas.

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