Escape key

or escape key

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a key (frequently labeled Esc) found on most computer keyboards and used for any of various functions, as to interrupt or cancel the current process or running program, or to close a pop-up window.
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Also called Escape, Esc key .
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is the escape key?

The escape key is a key on a computer keyboard that is used to cancel various actions, such as interrupting a process or closing a program.

The escape key is a key on most standard keyboard layouts, regardless of the language or characters used. Especially in Latin character-based layouts, the escape key is frequently located in the top left corner of the keyboard. It may be labeled as Esc, ESC, esc, or something similar. 

The escape key is frequently used in word-processing programs, media players, command prompts, programming language interfaces, video games, calculators, and similar complex applications. It may close a pop-up window, pause action, cancel an auto-fill prompt, and more.

It is sometimes written as Escape key or ESCAPE key

Example: Ugh, the escape key on my new keyboard keeps sticking.

Where does escape key come from?

The first records of the term escape key come from around the 1980s. It combines the term escape, meaning “to get away,” and key, meaning “a marked part on a computer terminal that is pressed to direct the computer to perform an action.”

The escape key was initially developed by Bob Bemer, an IBM programmer in the 1960s. During the early days of computer programming, different computer manufacturers used different types of code, which made developing and programming computers difficult and time-consuming. The escape key was initially used as a way for programmers to leave, or “escape,” one type of coding and enter another. 

Because computer technology and keyboards with escape keys have become so ubiquitous, phrases and idioms referencing the escape key have found their way into slang. For example, you might say “Let’s hit the escape key” when you and your friend are ready to leave a place or when you give up trying to do something.

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What are some other forms related to escape key?

  • Escape key (alternative spelling)

What are some synonyms for escape key?

  • Escape
  • Esc key

What are some words that share a root or word element with escape key

What are some words that often get used in discussing the escape key?

How is escape key used in real life?

Escape key is usually in discussions about computers and programs running on them. It can occasionally be used in figurative phrases informally.

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True or False?

The escape key is commonly used to close programs and interrupt processes on a computer.

How to use Escape key in a sentence