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[lach-kee] /ˈlætʃˌki/
noun, plural latchkeys.
a key for releasing a latch or springlock, especially on an outer door.
Origin of latchkey
1815-25; latch + key1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for latchkey
  • Sorry to those who do, but unfortunately in the modern age of latchkey kids, they don't have a clue.
  • What a great way to keep latchkey kids busy and productive after school before their parents got home from work.
  • Information and materials are presented to aid in the development of an after school program for latchkey children.
  • The services ranged from computerized monitoring for seniors and latchkey children to voice mail service.
  • They may be latchkey kids whose parents have told them to stay at home after school.
  • The initiative gave latchkey children a safe place to stay each afternoon, and it later expanded to include summer vacations.
British Dictionary definitions for latchkey


a key for an outside door or gate, esp one that lifts a latch
  1. a supposed freedom from restrictions
  2. (as modifier): a latchkey existence
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 latchkey

also latch-key, 1825, a key to draw back the latch of a door, from latch (n.) + key (n.1). Latchkey child first recorded 1944, American English, in reference to children who come home from school while both parents are at work.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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