There are 2 main definitions of lock in English:

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lock 1

Pronunciation: /läk/


1A mechanism for keeping a door, lid, etc., fastened, typically operated only by a key of a particular form: the key turned firmly in the lock
More example sentences
  • Use steel doors with deadbolt locks and bar windows where appropriate.
  • Dead bolts on the doors, and key locks for the windows are the safest.
  • Funding can be provided for window locks, door locks, door chains, security lighting, socially monitored alarm systems, smoke alarms.
1.1A device used to prevent the operation or movement of a vehicle or other machine: a bicycle lock
More example sentences
  • Andrew said the thieves had cut through his bike lock before stealing the machine, which had been parked off Fossgate.
  • A protective husband accused of beating a man to death with a steering lock after his wife's car was damaged acted in self-defence, a court heard yesterday.
  • You've tried three times now, and all you've managed to do is break the steering lock.
1.2A facility on a computer or mobile phone that requires a user to verify their identity with a passcode or other form of authentication in order to access the full functionality of the device: there’s a security lock on the phone and he doesn’t know the code
More example sentences
  • By pressing the lock button to wake the phone, you will be prompted with the unlock screen.
  • He sold his computer and "had someone put a lock on my phone where I cannot access the Internet through a non-filtered browser."
  • Had to disable the lock and was clicking the phone just to make sure that it does not sleep.
1.3(In wrestling and martial arts) a hold that prevents an opponent from moving a limb.
Example sentences
  • I worked out ways to defeat the headlocks, body locks and rear holds from wrestling.
  • The Kimura lock is the favourite armlock of Marcus Soares: once he locks it on, there is no escape.
  • This is the reason leg locks are barred in judo contests.
1.4 [in singular] archaic A number of interlocked or jammed items: a street closed by a lock of carriages
2A short confined section of a canal or other waterway in which the water level can be changed by the use of gates and sluices, used for raising and lowering vessels between two gates.
Example sentences
  • It was nicknamed the Everest of canals because its 91 locks lifted boats 600 ft.
  • During low stages on the Mississippi River, flood control locks are opened seasonally to drain the interior floodplain waters.
  • But a surprising number of deaths are also caused because manatees have no fear of Florida's underwater canal gates and locks.
2.1An airlock.
3 (a lock) North American informal A person or thing that is certain to succeed; a certainty.
Example sentences
  • Avion Black filled in nicely when Lewis was injured but is not a lock to succeed him.
4 historical A mechanism for exploding the charge of a gun.


1 [with object] Fasten or secure (something) with a lock: she closed and locked her desk
More example sentences
  • She closed the door behind her and locked it with the chain lock just above her head.
  • He then left the room, shutting the door behind him, and locking it securely.
  • I sprinted up the stairs and shut my bedroom door behind me, locking it securely.
1.1Enclose or shut in by locking or fastening a door, lid, etc. the prisoners are locked in overnight Phil locked away the takings every night
More example sentences
  • The death of a Bradford teenager engulfed in flames after igniting a highly flammable liquid could have been avoided if the chemicals had been properly locked up, an inquest heard.
  • So he's locked up for 23 hours a day in a steel cage.
  • ‘It has been locked up in a safe; it has been rolled up for decades and it's an important work,’ he said.
1.2 [no object] (Of a door, window, box, etc.) become or be able to be secured through activation of a lock: the door will automatically lock behind you
More example sentences
  • The outer doors lock automatically at 8:00 p.m., three hours after the retail section has shut down.
  • Hurriedly, they moved inside and toward another elevator, the door locking automatically behind them.
  • What's more, when he enters, the doors lock automatically and he's trapped inside.
2Restrict access to the full functionality or data of (a computer, mobile phone, file, etc.), especially by requiring a user to verify their identity with a passcode or other form of authentication: my computer is locked and I’ve forgotten my login info I don’t want people to read my emails—that’s why I lock my phone
More example sentences
  • You can also use an app which enables smartphone or tablet owners to lock, locate and recover their gadgets in the event of loss or theft.
  • Other tricks include the ability to automatically lock a connected smartphone or tablet as soon as the user moves 3 feet away with the wristwatch on.
  • Aside from seeing the Start screen and putting up with a delay each time you log in, you'll see a lock screen for tablets each time you lock your computer.
2.1 (be locked) (Of a mobile phone) operate only on the network of a particular carrier: the phone is locked to T-mobile
More example sentences
  • For those of us who have cell phones that are not locked into a carrier, you might find it cheaper to buy a prepaid SIM chip once you arrive at your destination.
  • If you're not sure if your phone is locked, you can check that by inserting another carrier SIM.
  • We can unlock any Blackberry device regardless of the carrier/country the phone is locked to.
3Make or become rigidly fixed or immovable: [with object]: he locked his hands behind her neck the vessel was locked in ice [no object]: their gaze locked for several long moments
More example sentences
  • He stepped forward rigidly, his eyes locking on hers.
  • Shooting doesn't require the knees to be visibly bent; the point is they shouldn't be rigidly locked.
  • His armed were pinned down at his side, his legs locked rigidly parallel of each other.
join, interlock, intertwine, link, mesh, engage, unite, connect, yoke, mate;
become stuck, stick, jam, become/make immovable, become/make rigid
4 [no object] Go through a lock on a canal: we locked through at Moore Haven



have a lock on

North American informal Have an unbreakable hold on or total control over.
Example sentences
  • If they couldn't win in 2004, they will never win, because the Republicans now have a lock on absolutely every political and judicial instrument in the country.
  • Say you work or go to school in a state where the Republicans have a lock on all the important offices.
  • It is easy to believe that the devil has a lock on what is popular.

lock horns

Engage in conflict.
Example sentences
  • Would such opposites attract, learn from each other, and astonish us, or would these two conflicting musical spirits lock horns and fight it out?
  • Fearful to confront, because of our own fears, perchance we find ourselves looking into a mirror and are terrified to lock horns with our own conflicting thoughts.
  • Across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, lawyers have already locked horns paving the way for lengthy court fights if the election is close.

lock, stock, and barrel

Including everything; completely: the place is owned lock, stock, and barrel by an oil company
Referring to the complete mechanism of a firearm
More example sentences
  • She returned from a vacation in Greece and found that someone had moved in, lock, stock, and barrel - complete with redecorating.
  • It then essentially hands the entire thing, lock, stock, and barrel, to this unelected and unaccountable committee.
  • If they were to sell off the operating agency lock, stock, and barrel, and lease the use of the tunnels and stations for, say, a 99-year period, there might be hope.

under lock and key

Securely locked up.
Example sentences
  • Afterwards it will once again be under lock and key, behind a shatterproof, bulletproof, glass window, away from prying fingers.
  • The farmers are appealing to all dog owners in the area to make sure their dogs are chained or under lock and key especially at night time when most of the damage seems to take place.
  • Is it a question of women being literally held as slave captive in the physical sense, living behind bars, under lock and key, or is it a question of something more subtle?

Phrasal verbs


lock someone down

North American Confine a prisoner to their cell, especially so as to gain control.
Example sentences
  • I was locked down in a cell made for two, with five people, no working toilet, no food and no protection.
  • Before I was locked down, 3 troublemakers entered my cell and commenced to verbally assail my ailing celly.
  • Even his incarceration could not stop him working towards his ambition of a Lonsdale Belt: ‘I managed to train every day, even though I was locked down from eight at night until eight in the morning.’

lock someone/something in (or into)

Involve or entangle someone or something in (an embrace or struggle): they were locked in a legal battle
More example sentences
  • Historically, war locks nations into an economy where preparation and fighting consumes billions of dollars.
  • On his travels, Sachs started noticing geographic, historic and social circumstances that lock countries into poverty traps.
  • As the government's increase in prescription charges shows, we are not locked into a situation where changes cannot be made.
clasp, grasp, embrace, hug, squeeze, clench
2.1Oblige a person or company to abide by the terms of a contract for a specific period.
Example sentences
  • It is not just PFI schools that find themselves locked into long-term contracts.
  • Or because rates were moving so fast, they never locked in the promised rate.
  • The owners are demanding the lengthening of rookie contracts, which lock players into a preset wage scale, from the present three-year agreement to five years.

lock onto

Locate (a target) by radar or similar means and then track.
Example sentences
  • It automatically passes on details of the most serious threat to the ship to Seawolf's tracker, which then looks for - and locks on to - the incoming target.
  • Driven reticles confirm the missile seeker is locked on to the same target the gunner is tracking.
  • Faced with too many targets and choices, the missiles failed to lock on to a single radar.

lock someone out

1Keep someone out of a room or building by locking the door.
Example sentences
  • ‘And you can prevent it by simply turning the key in the door and locking them out,’ he said.
  • She responded by inviting him to her room and locked him out in the corridor.
  • And the point is, I'm staring at the door because I am locked out.
2(Of an employer) subject employees to a lockout.
Example sentences
  • The strikers occupied factories to prevent employers from locking them out, and these sit-ins became festivals, intended both to reclaim workplaces for the workers and to spread the protests.
  • But their employer locked them out last year, and they have been campaigning for their jobs ever since.
  • An employer has to pay his employees wages during a strike and cannot lock them out.

lock someone out of

Exclude someone from: those now locked out of the job market
More example sentences
  • Otherwise, they could be locked out of the US market from December 12.
  • The French and German governments informed the Turkish opposition parties that if they voted to help the Coalition war effort, Turkey would be locked out of Europe for a generation.
  • The submission also says landholders south of the border were under-represented, and the New South Wales Government was locked out of contributing to the draft plan.
keep out of, shut out of/from, refuse entrance to, deny admittance to;
exclude from, bar from, debar from, ban from

lock someone up (or away)

Imprison someone.
Example sentences
  • If you want to lock someone up in jail, you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did it, so you have to have an adversarial system where you can rigorously test the evidence of a complainant.
  • She spent five years on death row, albeit one specially created for her by the Florida prison authorities, which cleared out an entire wing of an old prison for women, before locking her up in solitary confinement.
  • If I was in charge of the Correctional Services, I would lock you up in solitary confinement and throw away the key, better still, I would bring back the death penalty.
imprison, jail, incarcerate, send to prison, put behind bars, put under lock and key, put in chains, clap in irons, cage, pen, coop up
informal put away, put inside

lock something up (also lock up)

Shut and secure something, especially a building, by fastening its doors with locks: the diplomatic personnel locked up their building and walked off you could lock up for me when you leave
More example sentences
  • In October 2000, tenants say two employees of the company forced them all to move out of the building by using intimidation tactics like threats, dogs, locking the building up and shutting off electricity.
  • After shutting the door and locking it up, she turned to look at Hope.
  • We had no way of knowing how bad the fire was until we got into the building because obviously it had been locked up since Friday.
(also lock something away) 7.1 Invest money in something so that it is not easily accessible: vast sums of money locked up in pension funds
More example sentences
  • This high level of tax relief makes pension vehicles far more attractive investments than most, but the drawback is that all money in the fund is locked away until retirement.
  • As members may be locking their money away for several decades, they may be willing to take a bit more risk to get a better return.
  • Perhaps locking the money away in a non-liquid asset such as property is not the best option.



Pronunciation: /ˈläkəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • There are loads of storage compartments, including illuminated, lockable and air-conditioned glovebox, storage compartments in the front and rear doors, as well as storage pockets on the front seat backs.
  • The lockable mahogany cabinet was designed to file the important legal documents and business accounts used in managing the Battie-Wrightson family estates in South Yorkshire and the north-east of England.
  • Cost of ownership and the fun factor aren't the only strengths of his great little machine. There's tons of storage space under the seat and in the glovebox underneath the handlebars, both of which are lockable.


Example sentences
  • Despite the lockless connecting door, Mel was quite satisfied with the room assigned.


Old English loc, of Germanic origin; related to German Loch 'hole'.

  • They seem like very different words, but the lock that is a fastening mechanism and the lock of hair may be related. Both are Old English, and possibly derive from a root that meant ‘to bend’. All the elements in lock, stock, and barrel are parts of an old-fashioned firearm, although only the stock and barrel are found in modern guns. The lock was the mechanism for exploding the charge, the stock is the part to which the firing mechanism and barrel are attached, and the barrel is the cylindrical tube out of which the shot or bullet is fired. The expression first appears in the early 19th century in the alternative version stock, lock, and barrel, used by the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

Words that rhyme with lock

ad hoc, amok, Bangkok, baroque, belle époque, bloc, block, bock, brock, chock, chock-a-block, clock, doc, dock, floc, flock, frock, hock, hough, interlock, jock, knock, langue d'oc, Locke, Médoc, mock, nock, o'clock, pock, post hoc, roc, rock, schlock, shock, smock, sock, Spock, stock, wok, yapok
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There are 2 main definitions of lock in English:

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lock 2

Pronunciation: /läk/


1A piece of a person’s hair that coils or hangs together: she pushed back a lock of hair
More example sentences
  • His eyebrows knit angrily together under a lock of loose black hair.
  • He had thick black hair, a lock of which was hanging over his eye.
  • She twisted a lock of bright hair between her fingers.
1.1 (locks) chiefly literary A person’s hair: flowing locks and a long white beard
More example sentences
  • When it comes to length, Danilo suggests those with curly locks keep hair short or very long.
  • He had chopped off his unruly black locks and his hair was now short and neat.
  • Earlier, without any joy, the coach had demanded the player shave off his flowing ginger locks and wild beard combo.
1.2A tuft of wool or cotton.
Example sentences
  • Fringe your dappled fawnskin cloaks with wooly tufts and flowers, and locks of purest white.
1.3 (locks) short for dreadlocks.


Old English locc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lok, German Locke, possibly also to lock1.

  • They seem like very different words, but the lock that is a fastening mechanism and the lock of hair may be related. Both are Old English, and possibly derive from a root that meant ‘to bend’. All the elements in lock, stock, and barrel are parts of an old-fashioned firearm, although only the stock and barrel are found in modern guns. The lock was the mechanism for exploding the charge, the stock is the part to which the firing mechanism and barrel are attached, and the barrel is the cylindrical tube out of which the shot or bullet is fired. The expression first appears in the early 19th century in the alternative version stock, lock, and barrel, used by the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

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