Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


After he'd got into the room he'd put the key up, wouldn't he?

When Steward placed a chair for him at the table and invited him into it, he began to key up.

Lady Holme took the key up carefully and put it down on the sofa.

There are some situations so crazily extravagant that they key up the spirit to meet them.

The effect of that always is to awaken to new alertness and vigor every mental power, as well as to key up every moral resolve.

We then key up the brasses in their places in the rod and fasten a centre piece in the brasses at each end of the rod.

The sound recalled her to her senses, and she picked the key up hastily.

Neither of us will give his key up to anyone but the accredited test pilot.

"Mrs. Packard took the key up to her room," I explained, thinking that some sort of explanation was in order.

Lock the door, Carey, and hang the key up in plain sight by the window there.


"metal piece that works a lock," from Old English cæg "key," of unknown origin, with no certain cognates other than Old Frisian kei. Perhaps related to Middle Low German keie "lance, spear" on notion of "tool to cleave with," from Proto-Germanic *ki- "to cleaver, split" (cf. German Keil "wedge," Gothic us-kijans "come forth," said of seed sprouts, keinan "to germinate"). But Liberman writes, "The original meaning of *kaig-jo- was presumably '*pin with a twisted end.' Words with the root *kai- followed by a consonant meaning 'crooked, bent; twisted' are common only in the North Germanic languages." Modern pronunciation is a northern variant predominating from c.1700; earlier it was often spelled and pronounced kay.

Figurative sense of "that which serves to open or explain" was in Old English; meaning "that which holds together other parts" is from 1520s. As "answer to a test," it is from chess, short for key move, "first move in a solution to a set problem." Musical sense of "tone, note" is 15c., but modern sense of "scale" is 1580s, probably as a translation of Latin clavis or French clef (see clef; also cf. keynote). Extended c.1500 to "mechanism on a musical instrument." As a verb meaning "to scratch (a car's paint job) with a key" it is recorded by 1986.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.