from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- adj. Music Pitched higher or lower than the correct notes of a melody.
- adj. Being out of accord with what is considered normal or appropriate: a high-flown, off-key speech by a newcomer.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adj. pitched inaccurately either above or below the correct note
- adj. not harmonious, or out of accord
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. Deviating from the proper pitch; -- of a musical note or series of notes.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- adj. inaccurate in pitch
Sorry, no etymologies found.
In this case, it sounds as if the President blew off the question so, if it was orchestrated, the orchestra was off-key.
The unconscionable truth fused his mind, body and soul in a foreign uncertainty and the rhythm that had heretofore produced harmony in his life was now off-key.
In the decades since, the record's off-key vocals and hapless rhythms have made it both a musical punch line and, remarkably, a contrarian rallying point for inscrutable art.
How we watch some hundred billion stars slide left to right each night while coyotes wail off-key and bats dip and swoop in their nightly smorgasbord.
Worried that the normal partisan overtones at the State of the Union address would seem off-key after the Jan. 8 shooting that targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, some lawmakers sat with their colleagues across the aisle to listen to President Obama's speech.
“You can have whatever you like,” Dyme sang off-key.
Eyes closed, she danced with the woman in her memory, slipping into her own off-key hum to accompany her steps when the words failed her.
After you play her, everyone sounds off-key, second-rate.
For this and a lot else we can forgive Mr. Lowe his good looks and, also, his off-key rendering of the local accent.
Will is no church-choir singer boy, but he has this raspy, cool, melodic style which, to our surprise, was neither pitchy or off-key.