Definition of lock noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//lɒk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//lɑːk//
    Describing hair, House equipment, Rugby, Architectural features
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  1. 1  [countable] a device that keeps a door, window, lid, etc. shut, usually needing a key to open it She turned the key in the lock. It's a good idea to have locks fitted on all your windows. see also combination lock See related entries: House equipment, Architectural features
  2. 2  [countable] a device with a key that prevents a vehicle or machine from being used a bicycle lock a steering lock
  3. 3[uncountable] a state in which the parts of a machine, etc. do not move
  4. 4[uncountable, singular] (British English) (on a car, etc.) the amount that the front wheels can be turned in one direction or the other in order to turn the vehicle I had the steering wheel on full lock (= I had turned it as far as it would turn).
  5. 5[countable] a section of canal or river with a gate at either end, in which the water level can be changed so that boats can move from one level of the canal or river to another CulturecanalsBritain's canals (= man-made channels of water for boats to travel along) were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, at the start of the Industrial Revolution. They provided a cheap and convenient means of transport for heavy goods, especially between the mining and industrial centres of the Midlands and north-west England. Coal, grain, clay and other materials were transported on narrowboats, also called barges, that were pulled along by horses walking along a towpath beside the canal. Many miles of channel had to be dug, with some sections passing through tunnels or over aqueducts (= long, high bridges across valleys). Hundreds of locks were built to enable boats to go up or down a hill. A flight (= series) of 20 or 30 locks was needed on some steep sections.In the US canals were used for a short period to transport goods to areas where there were no large rivers. The most famous, the Erie Canal in New York State, ran from Buffalo on Lake Erie to Albany on the Hudson River and connected New York City with Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Mules, not horses, were used to pull the barges. The growth of the railway in the 1840s soon took business away from the canals, but the canal system played an important role in expanding trade and encouraging people to move west.After the railways were built, many canals were filled in. In Britain especially, canals that still exist have become popular with people wanting a quiet country holiday away from traffic. Old narrow boats have been fitted with motors and converted to provide attractive holiday accommodation. Speed is restricted on canals so the pace is slow and restful. Some locks are operated by lock-keepers, but many are worked (= opened and closed) by people on the boats. Going through a flight of locks is seen as part of the fun. At night, people moor their boats at the side of the canal. Canals are also popular with fishermen, and with walkers using the towpath. Many pubs are built beside canals and attract people enjoying a canal holiday or having a day out.In Britain, some people live in narrow boats and stay most of the time on a particular stretch of canal. These houseboats are often painted in bright colours, with pictures of flowers on the side. On the flat roof there are sometimes traditional jugs and pots painted with similar designs.
  6. 6[countable] a few hairs that hang or lie together on your head John brushed a lock of hair from his eyes. She kept a lock of her mother’s hair.
  7. 7locks [plural] (literary) a person’s hair She shook her long, flowing locks. See related entries: Describing hair
  8. 8[countable] (in rugby) a player in the second row of the scrum See related entries: Rugby
  9. 9[singular] a lock (on something) (North American English) total control of something One company had a virtual lock on all orange juice sales in the state.
  10. see also armlock, headlock
    Word Originnoun senses 1 to 5 and noun senses 8 to 9 Old English loc, of Germanic origin; related to German Loch ‘hole’. noun senses 6 to 7 Old English locc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lok, German Locke, possibly also to the verb lock.Extra examples He turned the lock and pushed the door open. Most cars are now fitted with child safety locks on the back doors. Prisoners are kept under lock and key 24 hours a day. She flicked a stray lock of hair off her face. She had long flowing locks and blue eyes. She ran around the house, checking all the locks The hotels replaced their mortise locks on guest rooms with magnetic card readers. We had new locks fitted after the burglary. safety locks for handguns trigger locks for gunsIdioms including everything He sold the business lock, stock and barrel. to open a lock without a key, using something such as a piece of wire The burglars must have picked the lock on the back door.
    (keep something/put something/be) under lock and key
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    locked up safely somewhere; in prison We keep our valuables under lock and key. I will not rest until the murderer is under lock and key.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: lock