skeleton key

a key with nearly the whole substance of the bit filed away so that it may open various locks.
Also called passkey.

1800–10 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
skeleton key
Also called: passkey a key with the serrated edge filed down so that it can open numerous locks
[C19: so called because it has been reduced to its essential parts]

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
Itis supposed they had secured an en trance with a skeleton key.
The group entered a tiny side chapel and the resident architect retrieved a big skeleton key out of her pocket.
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