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

  • n. The keeper of the keys in a prison; a jailer.
  • adj. Supplied, installed, or purchased in a condition ready for immediate use, occupation, or operation: a turnkey computer system; a turnkey housing project.
  • adj. Of or relating to something supplied, installed, or purchased in this manner: a turnkey agreement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. ready to use without further assembly or test; supplied in a state that is ready to turn on and operate (typically refers to an assembly that is outsourced for manufacture)
  • n. A warder or jailer / gaoler; keeper of the keys in a prison.
  • v. to supply a turnkey product; to supply something fully assembled and ready to use

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A person who has charge of the keys of a prison, for opening and fastening the doors; a warder.
  • n. An instrument with a hinged claw, -- used for extracting teeth with a twist.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a building, complex device, system, or industrial installation which is sold by a contractor only after it is ready for immediate occupation or use; fully functional and ready for use; -- used of complex systems of a type which often require preparation or installation by the user before being capable of functioning as intended.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The person who has charge of the keys of a prison, for opening and fastening the doors; a prison warden.
  • n. An instrument, now almost obsolete, used for extracting teeth.

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

  • n. someone who guards prisoners


From turn + key. (Wiktionary)


  • He promotes his services at dealer trade shows, selling what he calls a "turnkey" operation with contracts, software and insurance for used-car leasing.

    The Seattle Times

  • INDEXED shirts = adventures in turnkey capitalism.

    It’s Friday!

  • In my impatience I called the turnkey, who told me that, after questioning the clerk of the prison, she had gone away again.

    The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • Publishers can choose white label turnkey solutions or individually configured modules.

    Marketwire - Breaking News Releases

  • Many schools rely on so-called turnkey fund-raisers, such as Sally Foster, a gift and wrapping-paper outfit, that induce children to sell products in order to win prizes ranging from plastic straws to iPods.

    Little Lomans

  • "Get up," called the turnkey as the door swung open, the middle silhouette in the dim but stinging light.

    Asimov's Science Fiction

  • The turnkey was a hulking, gnarled man who had served seven terms on the front, a lifetime soldier in the Federation Army.


  • Hubertz appeared to have ambitions beyond being an operator, too - offering white label turnkey poker operations when he said: "With our new powerful software capabilities, we will also be able to offer white label poker rooms to serious companies.

    Online Gambling News

  • The warden then called a turnkey and ordered him to attend Miss Black to the condemned cell.

    Capitola's Peril A Sequel to 'The Hidden Hand'

  • The readers of Mr. Micawber's history who remember David's first visit to the Marshalsea prison, and how upon seeing the turnkey he recalled the turnkey in the blanket in _Roderick Random_, will read with curious interest what follows, written as a personal experience of fact two or three years before the fiction had even entered into his thoughts:

    The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol. I-III, Complete


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  • Tyrion called Mord this in an episode of Game Of Thrones when he was imprisoned at The Eyrie.

    June 11, 2012

  • I always think of turnkey and thumbscrew together. That is, whenever I hear turnkey I then think of thumbscrew and vice-versa. Then I almost always remember that actor who had kind of bulging eyes (not Marty Feldman) who wore, in at least one movie, a sackcloth garb, had kind of a Beatles haircut and was somebody's turnkey, thumbscrew, or sidekick. What was his name...?

    February 27, 2009

  • God, I hate marketing lingo, especially when it usurps a wonderful, vivid word like turnkey. In my view, this self-promotional usage, and the marketeers who came up with it, are shovel-ready. Do any of these people read books?
    *feels himself turning into a curmudgeon; sort of likes it, sort of doesn't*

    February 27, 2009

  • "A system or software package that has been built, installed or supplied by the manufacturer complete and ready to operate. In the computer industry, the term is used to promote a system that can be easily set up and operated 'right out of the box.'"

    February 27, 2009

  • Thereupon the magistrate withdrew, assuring me that the gaoler should be ordered to give me free egress. In fact, the very next moment the turnkey came into my dungeon...

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 1 ch. 13

    September 12, 2008