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


We were all keyed up to quite a pitch over that on account of Phil.

He looked as though he was having the time of his life, all keyed up and delighted.

Evidently Jack was keyed up to a point close to an explosion.

Nor did he have the stimulus of interest that Jim had to keep him keyed up.

It was a great satisfaction to get Linda so keyed up with curiosity.

We are keyed up, some of us, rather nervous in anticipation of to-morrow.

All keyed up for war and no place to 164 go, and this was a kind of safety valve.

It40 was impossible for him to stop talking, he was so keyed up.

Kate was keyed up with apprehension: "Why take chances all the time?"

The men themselves were too keyed up and excited to rest easily.


"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.