a hole for inserting a key in a lock, especially one in the shape of a circle with a rectangle having a width smaller than the diameter of the circle projecting from the bottom.
Also called key. Basketball. the area at each end of the court that is bounded by two lines extending from the end line parallel to and equidistant from the sidelines and terminating in a circle around the foul line.


extremely private or intimate, especially with reference to information gained as if by peeping through a keyhole.
snooping and intrusive: a keyhole investigator.

Origin of keyhole

First recorded in 1585–95; key1 + hole Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for keyhole

Contemporary Examples of keyhole

Historical Examples of keyhole

  • He went to the keyhole of the door leading into the passage.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • With the key in the keyhole, they had kept their doors locked during the night.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • Grant it but a chink or keyhole, and it shot in like a white-hot arrow.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • The key rattled at the keyhole and then dropped to the floor.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • You say you looked through the keyhole and saw her take the money?

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for keyhole



an aperture in a door or a lock case through which a key may be passed to engage the lock mechanism
any small aperture resembling a keyhole in shape or function
a transient column of vapour or plasma formed during the welding or cutting of materials, using high energy beams, such as lasers
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 keyhole

1590s, from key (n.1) + hole (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper