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lock and key

Introduction

lock and key, fastening fitted to an entryway, such as a gate or door, or a container, such as a cabinet, drawer or safe, to keep it closed and/or prevent unauthorized access or use. Locks typically consist of a sliding, pivoted, or rotary bolt protected by a fixed or movable object. A lock may be opened by a mechanical, magnetic, electric, electronic, or electromechanical key or by employing a code or sequence of numbers or letters.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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