Idioms

    lock horns, to come into conflict; clash: to lock horns with a political opponent.
    lock, stock, and barrel, completely; entirely; including every part, item, or facet, no matter how small or insignificant: We bought the whole business, lock, stock, and barrel.
    under lock and key, securely locked up: The documents were under lock and key.

Origin of lock

1
before 900; Middle English; Old English loc fastening, bar; cognate with Middle Low German lok, Old High German loh, Old Norse lok a cover, lid, Gothic -luk in usluk opening; akin to Old English lūcan to shut
Related formslock·less, adjectiveself-lock·ing, adjectivewell-locked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for under lock and key

lock

1

noun

a device fitted to a gate, door, drawer, lid, etc, to keep it firmly closed and often to prevent access by unauthorized persons
a similar device attached to a machine, vehicle, etc, to prevent use by unauthorized personsa steering lock
  1. a section of a canal or river that may be closed off by gates to control the water level and the raising and lowering of vessels that pass through it
  2. (as modifier)a lock gate
the jamming, fastening, or locking together of parts
British the extent to which a vehicle's front wheels will turn to the right or leftthis car has a good lock
a mechanism that detonates the charge of a gun
US and Canadian informal a person or thing that is certain to win or to succeedshe is a lock for the Academy Award
lock, stock, and barrel completely; entirely
any wrestling hold in which a wrestler seizes a part of his opponent's body and twists it or otherwise exerts pressure upon it
Also called: lock forward rugby either of two players who make up the second line of the scrum and apply weight to the forwards in the front line
a gas bubble in a hydraulic system or a liquid bubble in a pneumatic system that stops or interferes with the fluid flow in a pipe, capillary, etcan air lock

verb

to fasten (a door, gate, etc) or (of a door, etc) to become fastened with a lock, bolt, etc, so as to prevent entry or exit
(tr) to secure (a building) by locking all doors, windows, etc
to fix or become fixed together securely or inextricably
to become or cause to become rigid or immovablethe front wheels of the car locked
(when tr, often passive) to clasp or entangle (someone or each other) in a struggle or embrace
(tr) to furnish (a canal) with locks
(tr) to move (a vessel) through a system of locks
lock horns (esp of two equally matched opponents) to become engaged in argument or battle
lock the stable door after the horse has bolted or lock the stable door after the horse has been stolen to take precautions after harm has been done
Derived Formslockable, adjective

Word Origin for lock

Old English loc; related to Old Norse lok

lock

2

noun

a strand, curl, or cluster of hair
a tuft or wisp of wool, cotton, etc
(plural) mainly literary hair, esp when curly or fine

Word Origin for lock

Old English loc; related to Old Frisian lok, Old Norse lokkr lock of wool
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 under lock and key

lock

n.1

"means of fastening," Old English loc "bolt, fastening; barrier, enclosure," from Proto-Germanic *lukan (cf. Old Norse lok "fastening, lock," Gothic usluks "opening," Old High German loh "dungeon," German Loch "opening, hole," Dutch luik "shutter, trapdoor"). "The great diversity of meaning in the Teut. words seems to indicate two or more independent but formally identical substantival formations from the root."

The Old English sense "barrier, enclosure" led to the specific meaning "barrier on a river" (c.1300), and the more specific sense "gate and sluice system on a water channel used as a means of raising and lowering boats" (1570s). Wrestling sense is from c.1600. Phrase under lock and key attested from early 14c.

lock

n.2

"tress of hair," Old English locc "lock of hair, curl," from Proto-Germanic *lukkoz (cf. Old Norse lokkr, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch lok, Old High German loc, German Locke "lock of hair"), from PIE *lugnos-, perhaps related to Greek lygos "pliant twig, withe," Lithuanian lugnas "flexible."

lock

v.

"to fasten with a lock," c.1300, from Old English lucan "to lock, to close" (class II strong verb; past tense leac, past participle locen), from the same root as lock (n.1). Cognate with Old Frisian luka "to close," Old Saxon lukan, Old High German luhhan, Old Norse luka, Gothic galukan. Meaning "to embrace closely" is from 1610s. Related: Locked; locking. Slang lock horns "fight" is from 1839.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with under lock and key

under lock and key

Securely locked up, as in He keeps the wine under lock and key. [First half of 1500s]

lock

In addition to the idioms beginning with lock

  • lock horns
  • lock in
  • lock out
  • lock the barn door after the horse has bolted
  • lock up

also see:

  • under lock and key
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.