Key, David McKendree, 1824-1900, American politician and jurist, b. Greene co., Tenn. He practiced law in Chattanooga, Tenn., from 1853 to 1870, except during the Civil War, when he was an officer in the Confederate army. He served in the U.S. Senate (1875-77) to complete Andrew Johnson's term. In 1877, President Hayes chose Key to be his Postmaster General, an action that provoked sharp criticism from Republicans, who felt that the presence of an ex-Confederate in the cabinet violated party principles. From 1880 to 1894, Key served as U.S. judge for the eastern and middle districts of Tennessee.
Key, Ellen, 1849-1926, Swedish author, critic, and ideologue. Believing that women are primarily fitted for motherhood, she deplored feminist claims to equality on the labor market. Her ideas regarding state child support influenced social legislation in several countries. Among her best-known works published in English are Love and Marriage (1911, repr. with critical and biographical notes by Havelock Ellis, 1931), The Century of the Child (1909), The Woman Movement (1912), The Younger Generation (1914), and War, Peace, and the Future (1916).

See studies by U. Wittrock (1953), J. Senn (1975), and R. DeAngelis (1978).

Key, Francis Scott, 1779-1843, American poet, author of the Star-spangled Banner, b. present Carroll co., Md. A lawyer, he was U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia (1833-41). His works include The Power of Literature and Its Connection with Religion (1834) and the posthumous collection Poems (1857), which contains several hymns.
Key, John, 1961-, New Zealand investment banker and politician, prime minister of New Zealand (2008-), b. Auckland, studied Univ. of Canterbury (B.Comm., 1982) and Harvard. Trained as an accountant, Key worked for a large American investment bank. Posted in Singapore, London, and Sydney, he became an extremely successful currency and bond trader. A member of the center-right National party, he returned home (2001) to begin a political career and was first elected to parliament in 2002. In 2004 he was named his party's financial spokesman and in 2006 party leader. A centrist who did much to reinvigorate his party, he became prime minister when the National party won a plurality in the 2008 elections.
key, in mechanics: see lock and key.
key. 1 In music, term used to indicate the scale from which the tonal material of a given composition is derived. To say, for example, that a composition is in the key of C major means that it uses as its basic tonal material the tones of that scale which is associated with C major, and that its harmony employs the chords built on the tones of that scale. C is then the keynote, and the C major triad, or the notes CEG, the tonic chord of the composition. In addition to the seven tones of the C major scale, however, the remaining five tones of the chromatic scale may appear as auxiliary tones, and chords may be borrowed from other keys. Modulation to another key may take place, but if there is a return to the original key the whole composition is said to be in the key of C. At the beginning of a composition, its key is usually indicated by a key signature (see musical notation). A term usually used synonymously with key is tonality. Absence of a feeling of key is called atonality. The concept of keynotes was developed gradually during the 16th and 17th cent. and its partial or total abandonment was a feature of the modernism of the early and mid-20th cent. Polytonality, the employment of two or more keys simultaneously, has been used by some 20th-century composers. 2 Also in music, in reference to musical instruments the term key refers to a lever depressed by the player's finger or, in the case of the pedal keyboard of the organ, the foot. In woodwind instruments the keys control covers on the holes that shorten the vibrating column of air. In brass winds they control the valves that lower the pitch of the instrument by lengthening the tube.

Key may refer to:


  • Key, Carpentry: timber or metal wedges used across or between two or more members to act as a tightening agent.
  • Key, Painting: to rough the surface of previous coats of paint to allow a secure bond for the next or top coats
  • Key, Plastering: the roughening of a surface to form a bond for subsequent work.
  • Key(stone) The stone at the apex of an arch that holds the arch in place.



  • Key (instrument)—musical instruments have keys for tuning and keys for playing
  • Key (music), a set of notes
  • Key signature, in musical notation
  • Clef, the symbol that assigns note names to the lines and spaces of the musical staff

Map Key, invented to interpret cartography by Dr. Freymann in the 8th century


  • Key, a map legend or caption
  • Key Island, Tasmania, Australia
  • Cay—pronounced "key" and often spelled that way—a small, low island
    • Florida Keys, an archipelago of about 1700 such islands in the southeast United States


  • Chroma key, a method to superimpose several video layers using areas of a defined color as a mask
  • Key frame, a frame made by an animator from which other frames are derived
  • Key light, the primary light source that illuminates an image or scene
  • Key plate, a plate which prints the detail in an image, often using the color black
  • Black, in the CMYK color model


  • Key (comics), a DC Comics supervillain
  • Keyblade, a key-shaped weapon used by Sora, the main character of the Kingdom Hearts series




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