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From Old Portuguese chave, from Latin clāvis, clāvem.


chave f (plural chaves)

  1. key (to open doors)
  2. key (of musical instrument)
  3. key (crucial step)
  4. wrench, spanner
  5. curly bracket
  6. faucet, tap, water tap, spigot
  7. switch (a device to turn electric current on and off or direct its flow)
  8. (wrestling) hold (position or grip used to control the opponent)


Middle English[edit]


See ch-.



  1. I have
    • William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
      Kissyng and lying ich see is all one:
      And chave no mony, chul tell true therfore.


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From Old Portuguese chave (key), from Latin clāvis, clāvem (key), from Proto-Italic *klāwis (bolt, lock, bar), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *kleh₂u- (nail, pin, hook - instruments, of old use for locking doors) (possibly through an Ancient Greek intermediate).

Cognate with Galician chave, Spanish llave, Catalan clau, Occitan clau, French clé, Italian chiave and Romanian cheie. Doublet of clave, a borrowing.



chave f (plural chaves)

  1. key (object that opens and closes a lock)
    Chave do portão.
    Key to the gate.
  2. key (object that is inserted into a device and rotated to activate it)
    Chave do carro.
    Car key.
  3. any of several tools designed to turn screws, bolts, nuts, etc., especially a spanner
    Chave de fenda.
  4. (typography) curly bracket (name of the characters { and)}
    Coloque o valor entre chaves.
    Put the value between curly brackets.
  5. (figuratively) key (crucial step, element or requirement)
    Terminar no prazo é a chave para o sucesso de nosso produto.
    Finishing within schedule is the key to our product’s success.
  6. (figuratively) keys (free access to something)
  7. (computing) key; password
  8. (cryptography) key (a string used to encode or decode text)
  9. (databases) key (value that identifies a row in a table)
  10. (music) a key of a wind instrument
  11. (music) tuning lever; tuning wrench; hammer (tool used to tune certain stringed instruments)
  12. winder (key or knob used to wind a clockwork mechanism)
  13. (electricity) the switch of a circuit breaker
  14. (puzzles) the clue to an answer
  15. (sports) group; pool (in a tournament, a set of players or team who play against one another)
  16. (rail transport) the mechanism that activates a switch
  17. (architecture) the keystone of a vault
  18. (music, obsolete) Synonym of clave


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



chave (invariable, comparable)

  1. key; crucial; indispensable

See also[edit]