skeleton key


plural skeleton keys
: a key with a large part of the bit filed away to enable it to open low quality locks as a master key

called also passkey

Examples of skeleton key in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bill explained that on the sills over several of the doors, there sit different skeleton keys. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, 24 Aug. 2023 In combination with the token validation bug Microsoft describes, that may mean it could have been used to sign tokens for any Outlook cloud account, consumer or enterprise—a skeleton key for a large swath, or even all, of Microsoft’s cloud. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 12 July 2023 Other secret-keepers will come calling with skeleton keys in hand, too, from Kerry to Marcia and far beyond. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Apr. 2023 Music is a kind of skeleton key, opening countless doorways in the mind. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 In his design, the postman would sound an alarm by means of a skeleton key. IEEE Spectrum, 8 Aug. 2018 Though its title suggests a system of thought itself as a skeleton key to how genres and subgenres of popular music fit into each other, the book is far too subjective and far too personal a document to be viewed as pure history or, as some would have it, pop criticism. Gene Seymour, The New Republic, 15 Feb. 2023 Mahomes is a skeleton key. Adam Kilgore,, 20 Jan. 2023 That report became our skeleton key to this story. Chicago Tribune, 22 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'skeleton key.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1810, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of skeleton key was in 1810

Dictionary Entries Near skeleton key

Cite this Entry

“Skeleton key.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition

skeleton key

: a key made to open many locks
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