Definition of roman à clef in English:

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roman à clef

Pronunciation: /rōˌmän ä ˈklā/

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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ro·man à clef

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