Share this entry
roman à clef Syllabification: ro·man à clef
Pronunciation: /rōˌmän ä ˈklā/

Definition of roman à clef in English:

noun (plural romans à clef pronounced same)

A novel in which real people or events appear with invented names.
Example sentences
  • It is the crudest roman-à-clef, glaringly derivative and creakingly obvious.
  • Although Murdoch's novels cannot be read, strictly speaking, as romans à clef, she projected aspects of herself and her friends onto her characters, sometimes onto several characters in the same novel.
  • She published several novels and memoirs, including The New Atalantis, a roman à clef (published with a Key to its characters) in which she attacked various Whigs and people of note.


French, literally 'novel with a key'.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources