- a key with nearly the whole substance of the bit filed away so that it may open various locks.
Origin of skeleton key
First recorded in 1800–10
Also called passkey.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for skeleton key
The time had come for him to use the skeleton-key which he had had made.The Crevice
William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander
He was a prisoner now, for he had left the skeleton-key in the inside of the outer door.
That morning he had secured a skeleton-key, and now the weather was propitious for his purpose.
Let me see if my skeleton-key will open the cellar reserved for the tenant of the ground floor.Arsne Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes
- a key with the serrated edge filed down so that it can open numerous locksAlso called: passkey
C19: so called because it has been reduced to its essential parts
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