key Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Meaning of “key” in the English Dictionary

"key" in British English

See all translations

keynoun [C]

uk   /kiː/ us   /kiː/
  • key noun [C] (LOCK)

A1 a piece of metal that has been cut into a special shape and is used for opening or closing a lock, starting a car engine, etc.: car/door keys

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • key noun [C] (PART)

B2 any of the set of moving parts that you press with your fingers on a computer keyboard, or musical instrument to produce letters, numbers, symbols, or musical notes

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • key noun [C] (SYMBOLS)

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

keyadjective

uk   /kiː/ us   /kiː/

keyverb [T]

uk   /kiː/ us   /kiː/
to intentionally damage a car by scratching its paint 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

See all translations

keynoun

us   /ki/
  • key noun (METAL SHAPE)

[C] a piece of metal cut into a special shape to fit into a lock where it can be turned to open something, such as a door, or to start something, such as a car engine: I put the key into the ignition.
  • key noun (MOVABLE PART)

[C] any of the set of movable parts that you press with your fingers on a computer or other machine to produce letters, numbers, or symbols, or on a musical instrument to produce sound: piano keys Press the shift key to write in capital letters.
  • key noun (IMPORTANT PART)

[U] the most important part of achieving something or explaining a situation: Revision is the key to good writing.
  • key noun (MUSICAL NOTES)

music [C] a set of musical notes based on one particular note: 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 military strategy.
(Definition of key from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"key" in Business English

See all translations

keynoun [C]

uk   /kiː/ us  
IT any of the set of moving parts that you press with your fingers on a computer, etc. to produce letters, 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 unlocking potential.

keyadjective

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

keyverb [I or T]

uk   /kiː/ us  
IT to put information into a computer or a machine using a keyboard, or to spend time 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)
What is the pronunciation of key?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“key” in Business English

Avoiding common errors with the word enough.
Avoiding common errors with the word enough.
by ,
May 25, 2016
by Liz Walter Enough is a very common word, but it is easy to make mistakes with it. You need to be careful about its position in a sentence, and the prepositions or verb patterns that come after it. I’ll start with the position of enough in the sentence. When we use it with a noun,

Read More 

Word of the Day

biodegrade

to decay naturally and in a way that is not harmful

Word of the Day

decision fatigue noun
decision fatigue noun
May 30, 2016
a decreased ability to make decisions as a result of having too many decisions to make Our brains have a finite number of decisions they can make before they get depleted and become less discerning – so this is called decision fatigue.

Read More