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off-key

[awf-kee, of-]
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adjective
  1. deviating from the correct tone or pitch; out of tune.
  2. Informal. somewhat irregular, abnormal, or incongruous.
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Origin of off-key

First recorded in 1925–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for off key

off key

adjective, adverb (off-key when prenominal)
  1. music
    1. not in the correct key
    2. out of tune
  2. out of keeping; discordant
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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

Word Origin and History for off key

off-key

adj.

1920, from off (adv.) + musical sense of key (n.1). Figurative sense is from 1943.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper