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[lach-kee] /ˈlætʃˌki/
noun, plural latchkeys.
a key for releasing a latch or springlock, especially on an outer door.
Origin of latchkey
First recorded in 1815-25; latch + key1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for latchkey
Historical Examples
  • He had let himself in with his latchkey and had gone at once to the library.

    The Just and the Unjust Vaughan Kester
  • A moment later there was a rattle of a latchkey and two people came in.

    The Slave of Silence Fred M. White
  • Yes; and I had an umbrella for its tempests, and a latchkey for my safe return.

    More Trivia Logan Pearsall Smith
  • All was quiet and peaceful, though, as Pinckney opens the door with his latchkey.

    Odd Numbers Sewell Ford
  • In a dingy street she took a latchkey from her pocket, and opened a door, from which a milk-can hung.

    To Tell You the Truth Leonard Merrick
  • Lady St. Craye hesitated a moment with her latchkey in her hand.

  • Mr. Carew had let himself in with his latchkey, and was within a few feet of them as his wife finished her song.

    Fairfax and His Pride Marie Van Vorst
  • There was his latchkey—the key with which he had gone into his lodgings to fetch away the disguise.

    The Red Triangle Arthur Morrison
  • One of these Spike proceeded to open with a latchkey, and so led Ravenslee into the dark void beyond.

    The Definite Object Jeffery Farnol
  • At nine o'clock I heard my uncle's latchkey in the halldoor.

    Dubliners James Joyce
British Dictionary definitions for latchkey


a key for an outside door or gate, esp one that lifts a latch
  1. a supposed freedom from restrictions
  2. (as modifier): a latchkey existence
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for latchkey

also latch-key, 1825, a key to draw back the latch of a door, from latch (n.) + key (n.1). Latchkey child first recorded 1944, American English, in reference to children who come home from school while both parents are at work.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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