Dictionary.com

skeleton key

Save This Word!

noun

a key with nearly the whole substance of the bit filed away so that it may open various locks.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON PARENTHESES AND BRACKETS APLENTY!

Set some time apart to test your bracket symbol knowledge, and see if you can keep your parentheses, squares, curlies, and angles all straight!
Question 1 of 7
Let’s start with some etymology: What are the origins of the typographical word “bracket”?
Also called passkey.

Origin of skeleton key

First recorded in 1800–10
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for skeleton key

British Dictionary definitions for skeleton key

skeleton key

noun

a key with the serrated edge filed down so that it can open numerous locksAlso called: passkey

Word Origin for skeleton key

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
See Today's Synonym