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latchkey

[lach-kee]
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noun, plural latch·keys.
  1. a key for releasing a latch or springlock, especially on an outer door.
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Origin of latchkey

First recorded in 1815–25; latch + key1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

screwskeletonopenerlatchkeypasskey

Examples from the Web for latchkey

Historical Examples

  • Lady St. Craye hesitated a moment with her latchkey in her hand.

    The Incomplete Amorist

    E. Nesbit

  • It was only when he got out into the now-emptying street that he remembered that he had not got a latchkey.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

  • With deep relief she saw her father, latchkey in hand, turning into the Old Square.

    Fraternity

    John Galsworthy

  • With longing, yet with dread, she waited for the sound of Stephen's latchkey.

    Fraternity

    John Galsworthy

  • A moment later there was a rattle of a latchkey and two people came in.


British Dictionary definitions for latchkey

latchkey

noun
  1. a key for an outside door or gate, esp one that lifts a latch
    1. a supposed freedom from restrictions
    2. (as modifier)a latchkey existence
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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 latchkey

also latch-key, 1825, a key to draw back the latch of a door, from latch (n.) + key (n.1). Latchkey child first recorded 1944, American English, in reference to children who come home from school while both parents are at work.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper