Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The tonic of a musical key.
  • n. A prime underlying element or theme: "The keynote of the revolution settlement was personal freedom under the law” ( G.M. Trevelyan).
  • transitive v. To give or set the keynote of.
  • transitive v. Informal To give a keynote address at: keynoted the press luncheon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The note on which a musical key is based.
  • n. The main theme of a speech, a written work, or a conference.
  • n. A speech that sets the main theme of a conference or other gathering; a keynote speech or keynote address.
  • v. To deliver a speech that sets the main theme of a conference or other gathering.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The tonic or first tone of the scale in which a piece or passage is written; the fundamental tone of the chord, to which all the modulations of the piece are referred; -- called also key tone.
  • n. The fundamental fact or idea; that which gives the key.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, the tone on which a key (tonality) is founded; a tonic. See key, 7 .
  • n. A central principle or idea; the pivotal point in a system, a composition, or a course of action; a controlling thought.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. give the keynote address to (an audience)
  • n. (music) the first note of a diatonic scale
  • n. a fundamental or central idea
  • v. set the keynote of
  • n. the principal theme in a speech or literary work

Etymologies

key +‎ note (Wiktionary)

Examples

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