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or key word

[kee-wurd] /ˈkiˌwɜrd/
a word that serves as a key, as to the meaning of another word, a sentence, passage, or the like.
a word used to encipher or decipher a cryptogram, as a pattern for a transposition procedure or the basis for a complex substitution.
Also called catchword. Library Science. a significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of a document or other item being indexed, used as the index entry.
Digital Technology. a word used to classify or organize digital content, or to facilitate an online search for information: Search the database for the keyword “Ireland.”.
Origin of keyword
1855-60; key1 + word Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for keyword
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What is the keyword of the book, occurring oftener than any other?

    Quiet Talks on Prayer S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon
  • The keyword to his political theory was not Pity nor Benevolence, but Justice.

  • The keyword is written out repeatedly and the message is written beneath it.

    Uncle Sam Detective William Atherton Du Puy
  • Instead of using the letters of the message, the letters of the keyword are used.

    Uncle Sam Detective William Atherton Du Puy
  • keyword recognition signals the reader to pay closer attention for critical definitions and ideas that follow.

  • The keyword—its significance had seemed to come to her in her sleep.

  • That is why the keyword cipher is practically insoluble without knowledge of the keyword.

    The Mystery of the Downs John R. Watson
British Dictionary definitions for keyword


a word used as a key to a code
any significant word or phrase, esp a word used to describe the contents of a document
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
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Word Origin and History for keyword

also key-word, 1807, from key (n.1) + word (n.). Originally in reference to codes and ciphers.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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keyword in Technology

1. One of a fixed set of symbols built into the syntax of a language. Typical keywords would be if, then, else, print, goto, while, switch. There are usually restrictions about reusing keywords as names for user-defined objects such as variables or procedures. Languages vary as to what is provided as a keyword and what is a library routine, for example some languages provide keywords for input/output operations whereas in others these are library routines.
2. A small set of words designed to convey the subject of a technical article. Some publications specify a fixed set of keywords from which those for a particular article should be chosen.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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