Try Our Apps


The Best Internet Slang

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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for skeleton key
Historical Examples
  • Then a skeleton key had been used, for there was the key in the lock at this moment.

    Three People Pansy
  • I have suspected him of possessing a skeleton key to my apartments.

    Anna the Adventuress E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • It must have been done from the window, unless someone had a skeleton key.

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

  • "Come on," he said, thrusting his skeleton key into the inner door.

  • Was there a bank official to be264 bribed or a skeleton key to be made?

    Remarkable Rogues

    Charles Kingston
  • This could be opened by a skeleton key owned by Erris Boyne.

    No Defense, Complete Gilbert Parker
  • To wipe your feet carefully on the common doormat before letting yourself in another's premises with a skeleton key.

    The Roycroft Dictionary Elbert Hubbard
  • He locked the door of the closet with a skeleton key, and went his way to fetch the Countess home.

    A Group of Noble Dames Thomas Hardy
  • He had already introduced a skeleton key into the lock, when a loud exclamation was heard from the crowd outside the gate.

    The Widow Lerouge Emile Gaboriau
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for skeleton key

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for skeleton

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for skeleton key