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.”
Also, key word.

1855–60; key1 + word Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
keyword (ˈkiːˌwɜːd)
1.  a word used as a key to a code
2.  any significant word or phrase, esp a word used to describe the contents of a document

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
It didn't seem to matter to them that a software algorithm-not a human
  being-was scanning your messages for keywords.
Then set email filter to bounce all mail with keywords related to the argument.
The government often tries to rein them in during crises by blocking the use of
  sensitive keywords.
Search engines are pretty good at matching keywords with relevant websites.
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