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American English: /ki/
British English: /kiː/

Translation of key in Spanish:

noun plural keys

  • 1 1.1 (for lock) I've lost my house/car keys
    he perdido las llaves de casa/del coche
    turn the key twice
    dale dos vueltas a la llave
    key holder
    administrador (-dora) (masculine, feminine) de llaves
    Example sentences
    • In the recovery room and three theatres, the drugs cupboards had been opened using force and the metal cupboards inside had been opened with keys.
    • He pulled the keys out, opened the door and slammed it closed.
    • From her pockets, she produced a key and inserted the key into the door, opening it.
    1.2 (for clock, mechanical toy)
    Example sentences
    • It later serviced the local textile industry, but then found a niche with the water industry, making valve keys for reservoirs and water mains.
    • The front of the tail mount is attached the keel and the back is elevated, plus there is no screw key below the keel.
    • Threats of police action to obtain the clock winding key were made recently.
    1.3 (switch)
    (for transmitting coded signals) manipulador (masculine)
    Example sentences
    • Anytime we flip a switch, turn a key in the ignition, or mail a letter, we expect something to happen.
    • He switched the keys in the ignition and the car started to roar.
    • When police stopped him his car engine was switched off and the keys were in the ignition and he was sitting in the driver's seat.
    Example sentences
    • Using the Morse key, operators at the stations were able to communicate with the world 24 hours a day.
    • A woman sits at a telegraph key and rattles Morse code along a wire.
    • She had learned to shoot a pistol, crawl under barbed wire, tap out gibberish on a Morse key.
    1.4 (peg, wedge)
    Example sentences
    • A cotter key fits in the two holes I drilled at the bottom and holds it open or shut.
    • Depending on the type of block you are using, there is typically some sort of key that locks one row to the row below it.
    • Opening the bubble-wrap we find the main unit, an instruction leaflet and a small bag with the screws and 2 keys.
  • 2 2.1 (to puzzle, code etc)
    Example sentences
    • There are many ways of cheating on standardized tests other than doctoring the answer keys or even using questions from the test in class exercises.
    • If there are no answer keys, compare your answers against those of some friends of yours who are also doing the practice competitions.
    • The classroom teacher rated each test using answer keys, while the second author independently scored all tests.
    Example sentences
    • Quantum cryptography systems discard these corrupt keys and only use codes that are known to be secure.
    • The strongest of all cipher systems require a random key as long as the message that's being sent.
    • Cryptographic keys and iris code reside in the smart card.
    2.2 (to map)
    explicación (feminine) de los signos convencionales
    Example sentences
    • In fact, as will be obvious to any reader who has ever used an index, the symbols in the key refer to the chapters in which the characters appear.
    • References within the tables themselves are listed in a key below each individual Appendix.
    • There is extensive use of place names without accompanying maps throughout the book, and many of the maps provided lack keys and scales.
    2.3 (answers)
    soluciones (feminine plural)
    respuestas (feminine plural)
  • 3 (crucial element) patience is the key
    la paciencia es el factor clave or la clave
    Example sentences
    • But as he explains, it is this hardship that provides a key to understanding the spirit and culture of these tribes.
    • Investment in higher education is the key to our future.
    • Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival.
  • 4 (of typewriter, piano)
    (of wind instrument) llave (feminine)
    Example sentences
    • The participants initiated the trials by pressing any of the keys on the computer keyboard.
    • The function keys are smaller then normal, resembling the half-size keys found in many laptop keyboards.
    • To ensure that the computer remains in Standby, do not move the mouse or press any keys on your keyboard.
    Example sentences
    • Her fingers stilled on the keys as the piano strings stopped their vibrations and the lounge was silent again.
    • The placement of the pianist's fingers on the keys also will affect dynamics to a certain degree.
    • Beth brought her fingers to the flute keys and played the first run of the piece.
  • 5 (tonality) (Music) in the key of D minor
    en (tono de) re menor
    to be in/off key
    estar/no estar en el tono
    to go off key
    salirse del tono
    to play/sing in key
    tocar/cantar en el tono
    Example sentences
    • Today, I am only going to listen to music played in major keys.
    • The pieces are all arranged as short, two-page pieces in the keys of C, F, G, D and B-flat major.
    • In my profession it may even be disadvantageous because it happens that we play a piece in a different key.
  • 6 (Botany)
    Example sentences
    • Visitors were not allowed to use pens or pencils but to use other media such as twigs, sycamore keys and string, among other things, with Indian ink to make marks.


transitive verb

  • 1 (attune)to key something to something
    adaptar or adecuar algo a algo
  • 2 (Building)
    estriar (para una mejor adhesión de baldosas, azulejos etc)
    Example sentences
    • Where no keying mix or bonding agent is specified, wet smooth concrete surfaces immediately before plastering.
    • If the piece is varnished or painted, sand it well to remove most of the finish and key the surface.

Phrasal verbs

key in

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object

key up

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object
he was all keyed up about the interview/seeing her again
estaba nervioso por la entrevista/la perspectiva de volverla a ver
the cast is all keyed up for opening night
la compañía está anímicamente lista para el estreno
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