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master key

a key that will open a number of different locks, the proper keys of which are not interchangeable.
Origin of master key
First recorded in 1570-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for master key
Historical Examples
  • They then broke the seal and entered the room by means of a master key.

    The Slave of Silence Fred M. White
  • The secretary of these flats, even the hall porter, should have a master key.

    Number Seventeen Louis Tracy
  • This is the master key to him; the main stress of his preaching and writing is here.

    Fresh Fields

    John Burroughs
  • He decided to say nothing about the Demon or the accidental striking of the master key.

    The Master Key L. Frank Baum
  • Why, oh why did not some intelligent person strike the master key!

    The Master Key L. Frank Baum
  • Waiting no longer, the day watchman used his master key on the door.

    Ye of Little Faith Roger Phillips Graham
  • The loss of the master key, which was in that safe, is irreparable.

    On Secret Service William Nelson Taft
  • When Raines came in he inserted the master key in the lock and opened the deposit box.

  • The theory of the class struggle is the master key to the bewilderments and confusions of history.

  • Pausing at a door, the cleaning woman fitted a master key into the lock.

    Behind the Green Door Mildred A. Wirt
British Dictionary definitions for master key

master key

a key that opens all the locks of a set, the individual keys of which are not interchangeable Also called pass key
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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