an honour that a particular city gives to people. It is usually given to a famous person by the city that they live in or were born in, or to a person who has done some good work for a city. It is a historical title, and does not give the person any special rights. In the US, a person who is given the freedom of the city is also given a large key as a symbol of the honour. For this reason the honour is commonly called the keys to the city.