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90s Slang You Should Know

skeleton key

a key with nearly the whole substance of the bit filed away so that it may open various locks.
Also called passkey.
Origin of skeleton key
First recorded in 1800-10 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for skeleton key
Historical Examples
  • They were so deep in thought that neither of them heard the turning of a skeleton key in the latch and the opening of the door.

  • Then a skeleton key had been used, for there was the key in the lock at this moment.

    Three People Pansy
  • He made a skeleton key with which he gained access to a loft where were stored valuable goods.

    Analyzing Character Katherine M. H. Blackford and Arthur Newcomb
  • Was there a bank official to be264 bribed or a skeleton key to be made?

    Remarkable Rogues Charles Kingston
  • With an oath, Dundee used his skeleton key to release the Yale lock with which the front door was equipped.

    Murder at Bridge Anne Austin
  • An impression of it was taken in wax by Sullivan, from which subsequently a skeleton key was made.

  • Nancy had solved that with a skeleton key bought at the five and ten.

  • One might have fancied that gloves were a kind of passport, or perhaps a skeleton key guaranteed to open principals' doors.

    The Record of Nicholas Freydon A. J. (Alec John) Dawson
  • It must have been done from the window, unless someone had a skeleton key.

  • Old King Brady pocketed the letters and proceeded to examine a trunk, which he opened with a skeleton key.

    The Bradys After a Chinese Princess Francis Worcester Doughty
British Dictionary definitions for skeleton key

skeleton key

a key with the serrated edge filed down so that it can open numerous locks Also called passkey
Word Origin
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
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