key Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
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Meaning of “key” in the English Dictionary

"key" in British English

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keynoun [C]

uk   us   /kiː/

key noun [C] (LOCK)

A1 a ​piece of ​metal that has been ​cut into a ​specialshape and is used for ​opening or ​closing a ​lock, ​starting a ​carengine, etc.: car/​door keys
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key noun [C] (PART)

B2 any of the set of ​movingparts that you ​press with ​yourfingers on a ​computerkeyboard, or ​musicalinstrument to ​produceletters, ​numbers, ​symbols, or ​musicalnotes
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key noun [C] (MUSICAL NOTES)

a set of ​musicalnotesbased on one ​particularnote: The ​songchanges key ​halfway through. the key of C ​minor

key noun [C] (SYMBOLS)

a ​list of the ​symbols used in a ​map or ​book with ​explanations of what they ​mean

key noun [C] (ANSWERS)

A2 a ​list of the ​answers to the ​questions in an ​exercise or ​test: See the key to ​test 3 on ​page 176.

keyadjective

uk   us   /kiː/
B2 very ​important and having a lot of ​influence on other ​people or things: She was a key ​figure in the ​internationalartworld. a key ​factor in ​tackling the ​problem
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keyverb [T]

uk   us   /kiː/
to ​intentionallydamage a ​car by scratchingitspaint using a key: Someone keyed his Porsche.
(Definition of key from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"key" in American English

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keynoun

 us   /ki/

key noun (METAL SHAPE)

[C] a ​piece of ​metalcut into a ​specialshape to ​fit into a ​lock where it can be ​turned to ​open something, such as a ​door, or to ​start something, such as a ​carengine: I put the key into the ​ignition.

key noun (MOVABLE PART)

[C] any of the set of ​movableparts that you ​press with ​yourfingers on a ​computer or other ​machine to ​produceletters, ​numbers, or ​symbols, or on a ​musicalinstrument to ​producesound: piano keys Press the ​shift key to write in ​capitalletters.

key noun (IMPORTANT PART)

[U] the most ​importantpart of ​achieving something or ​explaining a ​situation: Revision is the key to good writing.

key noun (MUSICAL NOTES)

music [C] a set of ​musicalnotesbased on one ​particularnote: the key of C

key noun (LIST OF SYMBOLS)

[C] a ​list of the ​symbols used in a ​map or ​book with explanations of what they ​mean: The key is ​printed at the ​bottom of the ​page.
key
adjective  us   /ki/
Deception is a key ​element of ​militarystrategy.
(Definition of key from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"key" in Business English

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keynoun [C]

uk   us   /kiː/
IT any of the set of ​movingparts that you ​press with your fingers on a ​computer, etc. to ​produceletters, ​numbers, or ​symbols: Press any key to continue.
GRAPHS & CHARTS a ​list of the ​symbols used in a ​map, chart, or ​book with explanations of what they ​mean: For an explanation of these ​symbols, see key below.
the key (to sth) the best or only way to ​achieve something: The key is to ​prioritize your ​work, and to ​keep to your ​schedule. Hard ​work is the key to ​success. A ​focus on ​training is often the key to ​unlockingpotential.

keyadjective

uk   us   /kiː/
very important and having a lot of ​influence on ​people or things: The ​control of ​inflation is a key ​component of the government's ​economicpolicy. a key ​factor key to sth Education is key to the country's ​success. Getting the ​budgetright is absolutely key.

keyverb [I or T]

uk   us   /kiː/
IT to put ​information into a ​computer or a ​machine using a ​keyboard, or to ​spendtime doing this ​work: All the ​data will then need to be keyed. She ​spends most of her ​time keying.
(Definition of key from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“key” in Business English

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