Main definitions of lock in English

: lock1lock2



  • 1A mechanism for keeping a door, lid, etc., fastened, typically operated only by a key of a particular form.

    ‘the key turned firmly in the lock’
    • ‘Funding can be provided for window locks, door locks, door chains, security lighting, socially monitored alarm systems, smoke alarms.’
    • ‘He thinks someone has managed to slip their hand inside the open window to release the door lock.’
    • ‘This would include getting appliances fitted like personal pendants, security and censor lights, window and door locks, door chains and spy holes.’
    • ‘Experts can advise on everything from door chains, window locks and alarms to whether you might benefit from a floodlight in a darkened back yard.’
    • ‘Devin waited until he heard the lock in the door latch shut, and upon hearing it, he walked right by Sandra and walked up the stairs.’
    • ‘Recommendations include carrying out risk assessments and having locks on windows and doors, both of which are sensible actions for any business premises regardless.’
    • ‘That night, she made sure to double check the locks on all the windows and bolt the door.’
    • ‘An experienced DIY person may be able to tackle the installation of window locks or door locks.’
    • ‘He encouraged home owners to fit door and window locks during a trip to Halliwell in Bolton and even took the opportunity to install security devices at a resident's home himself.’
    • ‘Around 1,200 homes have now had burglar alarms, security lights and door and window locks fitted, with 300 awaiting the upgrade.’
    • ‘You will need to drill a hole through the door face for the lock or deadbolt and one through the edge for the latch.’
    • ‘She added that she took security measures seriously anyway, and always made sure security locks on doors and windows were in operation.’
    • ‘As I was walking back, she saw me and went to roll down the window but hit the door lock by mistake thus activating the car alarm.’
    • ‘Use steel doors with deadbolt locks and bar windows where appropriate.’
    • ‘Bryce got to his feet and stretched, marched over to the window and latched the lock.’
    • ‘There was nothing he could use to defeat the lock on the door, there were no windows, and no sharp objects.’
    • ‘Her ears picked up the sound of a door closing and a lock catching.’
    • ‘These include window locks, door chains, and shed alarms.’
    • ‘Dead bolts on the doors, and key locks for the windows are the safest.’
    bolt, catch, fastener, clasp, bar, hasp, latch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A device used to prevent the operation or movement of a vehicle or other machine.
      ‘a bicycle lock’
      • ‘Security devices are great deterrents, steering wheel and gearstick locks and locking wheelnuts are inexpensive and easy to fit.’
      • ‘The dog let go only when a passing motorist stopped and hit the animal with a steering lock.’
      • ‘You've tried three times now, and all you've managed to do is break the steering lock.’
      • ‘‘If you have got a crook lock attached to your steering wheel the car is not going to get taken,’ he said.’
      • ‘Andrew said the thieves had cut through his bike lock before stealing the machine, which had been parked off Fossgate.’
      • ‘He failed to find him and so decided to try to break the steering lock in the car so he could drive home to Swindon.’
      • ‘You see, some people put two locks on their bicycles and an iron cage outside their windows to prevent robberies.’
      • ‘So what I really need now is a chain and a bicycle lock, so I can just leave the pump out in the locker room shower.’
      • ‘The gates were also locked with bicycle locks on one occasion, which were so effective that the whole gate had to be dismantled in order to get trucks in or out.’
      • ‘They pull out bicycle U locks and head for the racks.’
      • ‘I was bent over to move my steering lock and I got pushed from behind.’
      • ‘Most of Lindsay's injuries were a direct result of her method of affixing herself to the billboard - she put a bicycle lock around her neck and attached it to part of the billboard.’
      • ‘A protective husband beat a man to death with a steering lock in the belief that he had hurled a missile at his wife's car, a court heard.’
      • ‘A protective husband accused of beating a man to death with a steering lock after his wife's car was damaged acted in self-defence, a court heard yesterday.’
      • ‘He then switched the acceleration to cruise control, reached under his seat, and pulled out a steering lock.’
      • ‘People are also advised to buy steering locks, immobilisers and car alarms to foil potential thieves.’
      • ‘Every car around here has a steering-wheel lock.’
      • ‘Remove the ignition key and engage the steering lock, even when parking on your own property.’
      • ‘If not, even a steering-wheel lock is better than nothing.’
      • ‘He released the steering lock and switched on the ignition.’
    2. 1.2A facility on a computer or mobile phone that requires a user to verify their identity with a passcode or other form of authentication in order to access the full functionality of the device.
      ‘there's a security lock on the phone and he doesn't know the code’
      • ‘He sold his computer and "had someone put a lock on my phone where I cannot access the Internet through a non-filtered browser."’
      • ‘Had to disable the lock and was clicking the phone just to make sure that it does not sleep.’
      • ‘The tablet even features a display lock, which locks the tablet's display and buttons, allowing young children to enjoy videos or interactive books without interruption.’
      • ‘With the built-in smart fingerprint sensor, the tablet's security lock can be released by simply placing the finger of a pre-registered user on the sensor.’
      • ‘By pressing the lock button to wake the phone, you will be prompted with the unlock screen.’
    3. 1.3(in wrestling and martial arts) a hold that prevents an opponent from moving a limb.
      • ‘This throw is also useful in the event that an attacker facing you is able to pull your head down in order to get you in a neck lock.’
      • ‘We'd slam each other in turn, sometimes dragging the other down to the mat to grapple in laughter, cut off suddenly by a choke or a tap-out from a lock.’
      • ‘I worked out ways to defeat the headlocks, body locks and rear holds from wrestling.’
      • ‘The Kimura lock is the favourite armlock of Marcus Soares: once he locks it on, there is no escape.’
      • ‘Attacks are defended with blocks, various kicks, punches and strikes, throws, and wrist and arm locks.’
      • ‘Some people fall in love with ankle locks and never learn to pass the guard.’
      • ‘This is the reason leg locks are barred in judo contests.’
      • ‘One year is the year of the half guard; another is the year of the ankle lock.’
      • ‘In judo, certain techniques, such as standing arm locks, are left out of practice because they were found to cause injury.’
      • ‘I consider myself to have a reasonably high pain threshold from long years of being on the receiving end of aikido joint locks.’
      • ‘Instead they can apply the principle of an elbow lock, and let the technique form itself.’
      • ‘Well, the story is that Tomiki Sensei could do his wrist lock on anyone's upper arm.’
      • ‘Yes, it's like wrestling where there's chokes and submissions, arm locks, leg locks, stuff like that.’
      • ‘The object is to submit your opponent using a variety of joint locks and chokes, or to win the match on points.’
      • ‘I sat back, holding his ankle tightly but otherwise not applying the ankle lock at all.’
      • ‘Another useful technique is waki-gatame, an elbow lock where you clamp the opponent's arm against your body.’
      • ‘If you experiment with using the top arm and the bottom arm you will typically find that it is easier for you opponent to rotate his leg out of the lock if you use the bottom arm.’
      • ‘Well, I've only done judo until now so I was a little confused by the leg locks.’
      • ‘If you can get this arm lock against the opponent's elbow, you can easily break it (requires a subtle body shift).’
      • ‘Three big judoka simultaneously put locks on his neck and both arms.’
    4. 1.4archaic [in singular]A number of interlocked or jammed items.
      ‘a street closed by a lock of carriages’
  • 2A short confined section of a canal or other waterway in which the water level can be changed by the use of gates and sluices, used for raising and lowering vessels between two gates.

    • ‘He balls an intimidating fist as tight as he can, then releases it, like a lock in a canal.’
    • ‘When the Fianna Fáil man, from the 14th lock on the Grand Canal, got his hands on the booty he didn't forget his own and his own won't forget him now.’
    • ‘A flood bank separates canal and river, and the lock is in partial disrepair.’
    • ‘But the man from the 14th lock on the Grand Canal is rooted in where he comes from.’
    • ‘It was nicknamed the Everest of canals because its 91 locks lifted boats 600 ft.’
    • ‘Waterways general manager Adrian Sains said boats were in the locks when the gates failed.’
    • ‘The property sits on 17 acres with six loose boxes and is adjacent to the 33rd lock on the Grand Canal.’
    • ‘The inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci designed the swinging gates and canal locks used on it.’
    • ‘But a surprising number of deaths are also caused because manatees have no fear of Florida's underwater canal gates and locks.’
    • ‘What would happen if the locks on the Panama Canal were destroyed?’
    • ‘Many dams are accompanied by locks, which raise and lower water levels, lifting ships to ports at higher elevations.’
    • ‘The Eilean Eisdeal is 66 ft 6 long by 18 ft wide - almost exactly the dimensions of the lock at the Crinan canal.’
    • ‘They want to build a lock to keep the River Colne artificially high so boats can use the marina.’
    • ‘The new look Armentieres Square, with its continental-style piazza and canal lock with boats passing through, is the centrepiece of Stalybridge.’
    • ‘During low stages on the Mississippi River, flood control locks are opened seasonally to drain the interior floodplain waters.’
    • ‘Although this particular crowd was mainly due to people watching the boats pass in and out of the lock from the Stratford canal onto the Avon.’
    • ‘He filled his writings with discussions of plows, air pumps, compasses, canal locks, balloons and steam power.’
    • ‘After a short catnap while the vessel eased through the locks of the Welland Canal, it would be time to clean out the ship.’
    1. 2.1An airlock.
  • 3North American informal A person or thing that is certain to succeed; a certainty.

    • ‘Avion Black filled in nicely when Lewis was injured but is not a lock to succeed him.’
  • 4historical A mechanism for exploding the charge of a gun.


  • 1[with object] Fasten or secure (something) with a lock.

    ‘she closed and locked her desk’
    • ‘She carefully closed and locked it behind her, dropping her school bag and walking upstairs to her room.’
    • ‘Walking back to the door, she locked it securely then sat down at the table.’
    • ‘The back gate was locked and bolted so they must have jumped the fence run into the kitchen and taken it.’
    • ‘In the factory of the 20th century, at day's end the owner locked the gates to secure his capital.’
    • ‘The all clear signal flashed on the screen, and both doors leading to the back of the building were securely locked.’
    • ‘I securely closed and locked my doors, and got ready for bed.’
    • ‘I stood before my apartment door, cracked my neck for good measure and then exited, locking it securely behind me.’
    • ‘She tried the barred door of her cell, but it was securely locked and would hardly even rattle.’
    • ‘I sprinted up the stairs and shut my bedroom door behind me, locking it securely.’
    • ‘We would like to stress to everyone to make sure their homes are locked and secure at all times.’
    • ‘She closed the door behind her and locked it with the chain lock just above her head.’
    • ‘Most states no longer require a double-lock system, but medications should be stored in a secure, locked cabinet.’
    • ‘Residents are being warned to make sure their sheds are securely locked after incidents where thieves have struck.’
    • ‘He then left the room, shutting the door behind him, and locking it securely.’
    • ‘I closed the door behind me, locked it, and drew the chain across.’
    • ‘I opened the door to my flat and went in, locking it again behind me and sliding the bolts across for good measure.’
    • ‘Lacey stared at the closed door for a moment before locking it securely and drawing the curtains over the window.’
    • ‘I opened it carefully and then closed it behind me, locking it securely.’
    • ‘She then walked out, Jude closing the door and locking it behind her.’
    • ‘He threw the door shut behind him and locked it securely.’
    bolt, fasten, bar, secure, make secure, make fast, seal
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Enclose or shut in by locking or fastening a door, lid, etc.
      ‘the prisoners are locked in overnight’
      ‘Phil locked away the takings every night’
      • ‘It is not about the real recipe, which is literally locked up in a safe in Louisville and figuratively in a few executives' brains.’
      • ‘The death of a Bradford teenager engulfed in flames after igniting a highly flammable liquid could have been avoided if the chemicals had been properly locked up, an inquest heard.’
      • ‘‘It has been locked up in a safe; it has been rolled up for decades and it's an important work,’ he said.’
      • ‘Friday night and she was once again locked up in her room.’
      • ‘They knew they couldn't leave, and felt as if they were all locked up in a cage.’
      • ‘And speaking of e-mail… without it, this story would still be locked in a vault.’
      • ‘So he's locked up for 23 hours a day in a steel cage.’
      • ‘How could they ever really understand that he felt safe locked in his room.’
    2. 1.2[no object](of a door, window, box, etc.) become or be able to be secured through activation of a lock.
      ‘the door will automatically lock behind you’
      • ‘They continued onto the next room, the door locking behind them.’
      • ‘Hurriedly, they moved inside and toward another elevator, the door locking automatically behind them.’
      • ‘As someone had lost the key about a month ago, and the door automatically locked, getting caught inside was very easy.’
      • ‘The latch seems to lock a bit more securely, but it's still possible to jiggle it loose too easily if you fully load it up with a floppy and two hard drives.’
      • ‘All models have remote central locking, front electric windows, a trip computer and doors which lock automatically above walking pace.’
      • ‘I asked him what had happened and he said frequently when he'd go outside, the front door locked behind him for no reason.’
      • ‘Rebecca decided not to take the risk that the door might close and lock automatically behind her once she was inside.’
      • ‘I was instantly rushed inside the building, and the door locked behind me.’
      • ‘However, he did catch the click as the door automatically locked.’
      • ‘I wasn't sure about the rest of the city, so I grabbed my radio and took the elevator to the roof, where the door locked behind me and the power went out.’
      • ‘Jim stuffed the jewels into the tank and replaced the lid, then retraced his steps to the door and out, making sure the door locked behind him.’
      • ‘As soon as the girls stepped out and the door locked behind them, a grey mist filled Melanie's room.’
      • ‘The outer doors lock automatically at 8:00 p.m., three hours after the retail section has shut down.’
      • ‘As the doors locked behind them, they realized they would not be returning home, as promised, but were being left to die.’
      • ‘What's more, when he enters, the doors lock automatically and he's trapped inside.’
  • 2Restrict access to the full functionality or data of (a computer, mobile phone, file, etc.), especially by requiring a user to verify their identity with a passcode or other form of authentication.

    ‘my computer is locked and I've forgotten my login info’
    ‘I don't want people to read my emails—that's why I lock my phone’
    • ‘You can also use an app which enables smartphone or tablet owners to lock, locate and recover their gadgets in the event of loss or theft.’
    • ‘Aside from seeing the Start screen and putting up with a delay each time you log in, you'll see a lock screen for tablets each time you lock your computer.’
    • ‘To re-lock the phone, you can use the same thumb to lock the iOS device, by swiping down from the top of the screen with camera open!’
    • ‘The app works whether your phone is locked or not, and it can be told to repeat alarms so you don't have to reset it every day.’
    • ‘If your phone is locked while you're driving or sitting next to you while you work, you don't have to unlock it to see what's playing.’
    • ‘To sign out of your user account, just lock your tablet.’
    • ‘Other tricks include the ability to automatically lock a connected smartphone or tablet as soon as the user moves 3 feet away with the wristwatch on.’
    1. 2.1(of a mobile phone) operate only on the network of a particular carrier.
      ‘the phone is locked to T-mobile’
      • ‘We can unlock any Blackberry device regardless of the carrier/country the phone is locked to.’
      • ‘If your mobile phone is locked with any mobile services provider you can also have it unlocked with free unlock codes.’
      • ‘Your phone won't be locked to an individual carrier, so you can easily switch providers if performance degrades or you move to a new house where your original carrier doesn't work.’
      • ‘Some of the mobile phones come locked to specific mobile phone service providers that sell them.’
      • ‘A locked Telstra phone won't work with Vodafone, and vice versa, in other words.’
      • ‘If you're not sure if your phone is locked, you can check that by inserting another carrier SIM.’
      • ‘For those of us who have cell phones that are not locked into a carrier, you might find it cheaper to buy a prepaid SIM chip once you arrive at your destination.’
  • 3Make or become rigidly fixed or immovable.

    [with object] ‘he locked his hands behind her neck’
    ‘the vessel was locked in ice’
    [no object] ‘their gaze locked for several long moments’
    • ‘Finally he looked up at her, their nearly identical gazes locking.’
    • ‘Once, he turned his head just slightly and our gazes locked.’
    • ‘As soon as our gaze locked, I knew that I couldn't look away; I didn't want to.’
    • ‘‘You are lucky the girl is here,’ her hero growled, and his gaze locked with hers.’
    • ‘He stepped forward rigidly, his eyes locking on hers.’
    • ‘Shooting doesn't require the knees to be visibly bent; the point is they shouldn't be rigidly locked.’
    • ‘Brenner clasped his hands behind his back, his gaze locked on the tumbling image of the People's Way.’
    • ‘As Matt approached, their gazes locked and she smiled at him.’
    • ‘His armed were pinned down at his side, his legs locked rigidly parallel of each other.’
    • ‘She tilted her head, her gaze cool as it locked on Kai's.’
    • ‘For a time, resistant readings had little or no currency: everyone was locked into the American gaze.’
    • ‘My gaze locked into Christopher's, I was in no position to answer.’
    • ‘She was silent, and her eyes were like living flames that roved over his figure, but her gaze finally locked with his, paralyzing him where he stood.’
    • ‘I kept my gaze locked to his eyes, still numb with shock.’
    • ‘Her eyes found him, and their gazes locked for a moment, brilliant blue meeting, oddly, yellow dotted in red-orange.’
    • ‘Sighing softly, the Pack leader knelt down as well and gently placed his hand under Dante's chin to lift his head, their gazes locking.’
    • ‘Caleb leaned forward in his seat, his gaze locking with his uncle's.’
    • ‘Both Sophia and Mina turned, their gaze locking with the man who stood behind them.’
    • ‘Their gazes locked again as they walked towards one another.’
    • ‘Both of them sat on lawn chairs in the yard behind the condo now, their gazes locked on the brilliantly starry sky.’
    become stuck, stick, jam, become immovable, make immovable, become rigid, make rigid
    join, interlock, mesh, engage, link, unite, connect, combine, yoke, mate
    View synonyms
  • 4[no object] Go through a lock on a canal.

    ‘we locked through at Moore Haven’


  • have a lock on

    • informal Have an unbreakable hold on or total control over.

      • ‘To begin with, it has never been the case that professionals have a lock on publication.’
      • ‘I don't know who's going to win - or what good it does now to pretend your guy has a lock on it.’
      • ‘But it doesn't hurt the union; the union has a lock on Hollywood.’
      • ‘Usually, major-party candidates wait until they have a lock on the presidential nomination before diving to the center.’
      • ‘If the phase-out crew didn't still have a lock on fidgety right-wingers with poor social skills, where would they be?’
      • ‘It is easy to believe that the devil has a lock on what is popular.’
      • ‘We know that Republicans have a lock on Bible Belt social conservatives and Sun Belt business de-regulators, but why do they play so well among middle American rural voters?’
      • ‘The Democrats should have a lock on domestic policy.’
      • ‘If they couldn't win in 2004, they will never win, because the Republicans now have a lock on absolutely every political and judicial instrument in the country.’
      • ‘Say you work or go to school in a state where the Republicans have a lock on all the important offices.’
  • lock horns

    • Engage in conflict.

      • ‘They are bent on locking horns with the government and setting their own deadlines for the yatra and have begun what could be described as nothing but an illegal registration process to mislead the pilgrims.’
      • ‘Even now, at an age when most people would rather be in a gated Florida compound than constantly locking horns with the establishment, he persists in banging his head against closed doors.’
      • ‘The scrum has creaked badly in both matches so far and, since the Italians' strength is in this area, the Scottish forwards must view locking horns with them next Saturday with barely suppressed panic.’
      • ‘Fearful to confront, because of our own fears, perchance we find ourselves looking into a mirror and are terrified to lock horns with our own conflicting thoughts.’
      • ‘Would such opposites attract, learn from each other, and astonish us, or would these two conflicting musical spirits lock horns and fight it out?’
      • ‘But the patio outside his home has become the centrepiece of a bitter battle which has seen him lock horns with his next-door neighbour - the town's mayor.’
      • ‘Here, he locks horns with a right-wing party spokesman on Belgium television.’
      • ‘When they go after a corporate player, they know they'll be locking horns with the best legal talent that billions can buy - not running roughshod over some overworked public defender.’
      • ‘‘This summit was always going to be about posturing and locking horns before the real business begins - negotiating the way forward out of this mess,’ he said.’
      • ‘Across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, lawyers have already locked horns paving the way for lengthy court fights if the election is close.’
      quarrel, disagree, have a dispute, wrangle, bicker, be at odds, be at loggerheads, lock antlers, cross swords
      fight, do battle, engage in conflict, contend
      have a dust-up, have a scrap, have a barney
      View synonyms
  • lock, stock, and barrel

    • Including everything; completely.

      ‘the place is owned lock, stock, and barrel by an oil company’
      • ‘If they were to sell off the operating agency lock, stock, and barrel, and lease the use of the tunnels and stations for, say, a 99-year period, there might be hope.’
      • ‘It then essentially hands the entire thing, lock, stock, and barrel, to this unelected and unaccountable committee.’
      • ‘The very body that failed Auckland so miserably is now being rewarded with the keys - lock, stock, and barrel - to fix the place.’
      • ‘A New Zealander could actually buy it lock, stock, and barrel.’
      • ‘She returned from a vacation in Greece and found that someone had moved in, lock, stock, and barrel - complete with redecorating.’
      • ‘Coming of age, as it were, as the business model replaced earlier social models, they bought into the business model lock, stock, and barrel.’
      • ‘But then, neither had he planned to pick up his company and move it lock, stock, and barrel to San Jose, California, from Cleveland, Ohio, last fall.’
      • ‘But in 1989, the most likely scenario was that Japan would buy us all lock, stock, and barrel.’
      • ‘You're ‘special interests,’ you understand (every major candidate uses the phrase); you own the White House and Congress lock, stock, and barrel.’
      • ‘It's a very simplistic notion to assume that the world is made up of some abstract group called industry that has, lock, stock, and barrel, the same policy perspectives on any issue.’
  • under lock and key

    • Securely locked up.

      • ‘This does not mean they will be scarred for life, and short of keeping your progeny under lock and key, you can't guarantee that they will never see anything you would rather they didn't.’
      • ‘Is it a question of women being literally held as slave captive in the physical sense, living behind bars, under lock and key, or is it a question of something more subtle?’
      • ‘That can mean storing formulas under lock and key or having employees sign confidentiality agreements.’
      • ‘All our major players are signed up on relatively long contracts so they are effectively under lock and key.’
      • ‘Afterwards it will once again be under lock and key, behind a shatterproof, bulletproof, glass window, away from prying fingers.’
      • ‘For anthropologists Thailand is a very difficult country to gather information on because much of it remains under lock and key, not for decades but for centuries.’
      • ‘Today's gun owner keeps his - or, increasingly, her - guns under lock and key, whether in a safe or locked with a gunlock.’
      • ‘The farmers are appealing to all dog owners in the area to make sure their dogs are chained or under lock and key especially at night time when most of the damage seems to take place.’
      • ‘‘In the end, I can't keep him under lock and key forever,’ she said.’
      • ‘So everyone should make sure that their dogs are under lock and key at night and on a lead when taken out in public places because the dog warden will, no doubt, be busy over the next few weeks.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • lock someone down

    • Confine a prisoner to their cell, especially so as to gain control.

      • ‘Even his incarceration could not stop him working towards his ambition of a Lonsdale Belt: ‘I managed to train every day, even though I was locked down from eight at night until eight in the morning.’’
      • ‘Before I was locked down, 3 troublemakers entered my cell and commenced to verbally assail my ailing celly.’
      • ‘I was locked down in a cell made for two, with five people, no working toilet, no food and no protection.’
  • lock someone/something in (or into)

    • 1Involve or entangle someone or something in (an embrace or struggle)

      ‘they were locked in a legal battle’
      • ‘Grocery giants in Carlow are locked in a competitive price war, matching each other cent for cent across certain products.’
      • ‘Internal cache locks a datacenter into finite and usually small maximum capacity.’
      • ‘In addition, once a person accepts housing with a Housing Association they are locked into that situation as the Council will not consider them for Council housing as they are deemed to be already housed.’
      • ‘Nor do I want to do business on the Internet with anybody who wants to lock me in with nondisclosures, noncompetes and so forth.’
      • ‘After notching up record trade deficits month after month, Australia's terms of trade began to turn around in April when higher commodities prices were locked in to 12 month contracts.’
      • ‘On his travels, Sachs started noticing geographic, historic and social circumstances that lock countries into poverty traps.’
      • ‘The problem with the whole legal process in this situation - they are locked into it.’
      • ‘There continues to be the same emphasis on locking the human figures into their physical surroundings to the point where they are indistinguishable one from the other.’
      • ‘Even that being the case, other speed racers are still my competitors and many times I have been locked in highly dangerous races with them.’
      • ‘Societal regulation tends to crystallize the status quo, to impart a certain momentum and a certain inertia to the existent conditions of societies, by locking individuals into certain repetitive patterns of conduct.’
      • ‘Their greed and dictatorial rule have locked their nations into destructive and near permanent cycles of poverty, war, disease and dependency that have become Africa's trademark.’
      • ‘There is no cosmic scriptwriter, but there are scripts which we are locked into.’
      • ‘That's according to the results of a new study which has criticised such services for trying to enslave internet users by locking them in to proprietary formats and music players.’
      • ‘Record labels lock their artists in to legal agreements that hold them for a decade or more.’
      • ‘On the other hand, reputation also locks people into particular patterns of collaboration and interaction through reinforcement.’
      • ‘Historically, war locks nations into an economy where preparation and fighting consumes billions of dollars.’
      • ‘It all marks a stark change from the rancour of the 1990s, when the two cities were locked in what seemed a never-ending dispute over air pollution.’
      • ‘However, you will be locked in to the SVR, currently 6.74%, for four years after the fixed period has come to an end.’
      • ‘As the government's increase in prescription charges shows, we are not locked into a situation where changes cannot be made.’
      • ‘Political struggles among competing religious and civic authorities have locked the state in unworkable policies, and forced the country into a devastating international isolation.’
      1. 1.1Oblige a person or company to abide by the terms of a contract for a specific period.
        • ‘It had locked itself in with Ecclestone until 2010, and Ecclestone had an option to extend the contract for five years.’
        • ‘That would be a fantastic time to refinance and lock in at a long term.’
        • ‘The owners are demanding the lengthening of rookie contracts, which lock players into a preset wage scale, from the present three-year agreement to five years.’
        • ‘Or because rates were moving so fast, they never locked in the promised rate.’
        • ‘It is not just PFI schools that find themselves locked into long-term contracts.’
  • lock onto

    • Locate (a target) by radar or similar means and then track.

      • ‘Faced with too many targets and choices, the missiles failed to lock on to a single radar.’
      • ‘These are flying bombs that hug the ground to avoid radar as they near a pre-programmed target, then use smart imaging systems to lock on to the target and make necessary final-course corrections.’
      • ‘Not dissimilar to the ‘heads-up display’ found in fighter planes, a glowing red circle at the centre of an eye-piece targets and locks on to a vehicle up to a kilometre away and records its speed with a high degree of accuracy.’
      • ‘It was a different matter when the height and speed of a bomber stream was determined by radar, for even if radar did not lock on to individual planes, it could place the barrage in the centre of the stream.’
      • ‘As they attacked, Iraqi radar locked on to them.’
      • ‘It has a range of between 800m and 3.5km and is a ‘tail-chasing heat source’, which means it locks on to heat from a plane's engines.’
      • ‘The receiver has to sort through this mess and figure out which signal to lock on to.’
      • ‘Driven reticles confirm the missile seeker is locked on to the same target the gunner is tracking.’
      • ‘It automatically passes on details of the most serious threat to the ship to Seawolf's tracker, which then looks for - and locks on to - the incoming target.’
      • ‘During these trials the ability of the missile to reject countermeasures and remain locked on to its target was assessed.’
  • lock someone out

    • 1Keep someone out of a room or building by locking the door.

      • ‘The waiter stepped inside and bolted the door, locking us out.’
      • ‘I've learned, too, that when I lock Thena out, she spends time sticking her legs under the door, which makes really annoying noises… damn cats.’
      • ‘So if he locks us out at the front door we can still get in, now go.’
      • ‘But he had to stop as she entered her room and locked him out.’
      • ‘She responded by inviting him to her room and locked him out in the corridor.’
      • ‘She was already in the car, slamming the door, trying to lock him out.’
      • ‘At that moment I had thoughts of telling her it was in Sam and Ashley's room and locking her out.’
      • ‘‘And you can prevent it by simply turning the key in the door and locking them out,’ he said.’
      • ‘And the point is, I'm staring at the door because I am locked out.’
      • ‘For a second, I contemplated messing it up, but thought better since he could easily get to my room and lock me out.’
    • 2(of an employer) subject employees to a lockout.

      • ‘An employer has to pay his employees wages during a strike and cannot lock them out.’
      • ‘The strikers occupied factories to prevent employers from locking them out, and these sit-ins became festivals, intended both to reclaim workplaces for the workers and to spread the protests.’
      • ‘But their employer locked them out last year, and they have been campaigning for their jobs ever since.’
      • ‘Workers employed by leading coating paint manufacturer Mirotone were locked out on February 22.’
      • ‘Those to be re-hired were told they would be locked out if they did not sign individual employment contracts.’
      • ‘Around 600 workers employed at Bendix automotive brake manufacturers in Ballarat were locked out on June 24, after placing work bans for new enterprise agreement.’
      • ‘Eighty workers employed by Brighton Cement Company in Birkenhead near Adelaide were locked out on Monday when they attempted to return to work after a three-week strike over a new enterprise agreement.’
      • ‘Bus drivers employed by National Bus in Melbourne were locked out on April 7.’
      • ‘About 350 workers employed by the Québec bookstore chain Renaud-Bray were locked out on November 21.’
      • ‘A number of SIPTU workers at the plant claimed that since March 5 they have been locked out by management because they have refused to undertake new working arrangements, which they said were foisted upon them without consultation.’
  • lock someone out of

    • Exclude someone from.

      ‘those now locked out of the job market’
      • ‘They need to prove the quality of this commitment with policies to clean up accountability in government big time, and to let the people into the political process, not lock them out of it.’
      • ‘Otherwise, they could be locked out of the US market from December 12.’
      • ‘The French and German governments informed the Turkish opposition parties that if they voted to help the Coalition war effort, Turkey would be locked out of Europe for a generation.’
      • ‘But by locking them out of their own party establishments we will also cause them to react violently in order to be heard.’
      • ‘But she is locked out of social work because when she was at school access to university was restricted to the few - and now retraining would take too much time out of her working life.’
      • ‘You need to be in their face and active, or they will lock you out of the loop.’
      • ‘In particular, they feared that a peace agreement in the south would strengthen the government in Khartoum domestically and internationally and lock them out of the national political process altogether.’
      • ‘If we want to help poor countries we should allow them to trade with us instead of locking them out of our markets with tariffs, quotas and the like.’
      • ‘Parents saw red over the appointment, organising protest meetings and demanding the departmental rules which locked them out of the decision making process be changed.’
      • ‘The submission also says landholders south of the border were under-represented, and the New South Wales Government was locked out of contributing to the draft plan.’
      keep out, shut out, refuse entrance to, deny admittance to
      exclude, bar, debar, ban, ostracize, banish, exile
      View synonyms
  • lock someone up (or away)

    • Imprison someone.

      • ‘At the beginning of the game, things don't look too bright for him as he is locked up in a jail out of which people generally don't escape.’
      • ‘If he arrived the same way today he would be locked up in a detention centre.’
      • ‘But when that cell door was slammed shut at night and I was locked away on my own in the dark, it was hard to put a brave face on things.’
      • ‘If he had been locked up in jail for a start, the police would have known exactly where to go.’
      • ‘Take this traitor to the jail and lock him up; I caught him trying to get in.’
      • ‘If you want to lock someone up in jail, you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did it, so you have to have an adversarial system where you can rigorously test the evidence of a complainant.’
      • ‘In prison you are locked up for long periods of time and there is no time to get to know the staff.’
      • ‘When I was locked up as a political prisoner in Taiwan, I encountered a middle-school student.’
      • ‘A teenage thug, who kicked and punched a nurse so severely his head ‘looked like a crushed Easter egg,’ has been locked up for four and a half years.’
      • ‘His kind had locked me up in jail for a year, and he wanted mercy.’
      • ‘Now now Ally, he has been locked away in a magical prison for longer than we have been alive.’
      • ‘If I was a copper, which thankfully I am not, I'd be in despair at the attitude of senior Law Lords who are encouraging the idea that burglars should no longer be locked up.’
      • ‘If I was in charge of the Correctional Services, I would lock you up in solitary confinement and throw away the key, better still, I would bring back the death penalty.’
      • ‘Everyone here is astounded that I was locked up in the jail's harshest quarters for so long.’
      • ‘And if I hadn't, well who knows we could be locked up in a jail now, accused of murder, or even worse, they could have caught up with us!’
      • ‘‘I like the idea of locking her up in a jail cell better anyway,’ Joshua quipped.’
      • ‘In one notorious case, a father had his young daughter deported from the centre without his knowledge or a chance to say goodbye while he was locked up in solitary confinement.’
      • ‘She spent five years on death row, albeit one specially created for her by the Florida prison authorities, which cleared out an entire wing of an old prison for women, before locking her up in solitary confinement.’
      • ‘The next thing I knew was that we were locked up in a jail with four other prisoners.’
      • ‘A persistent teenage criminal who broke the terms of his antisocial behaviour order has been locked up for five months.’
      imprison, jail, incarcerate, send to prison, put behind bars, put under lock and key, put in chains, put into irons, throw into irons, clap in irons, hold captive
      detain, remand, intern, impound, immure, shut up, shut in, confine, cage, pen, coop up, fence in, pen in, wall in
      send down, put away, put inside
      keep out, shut out, refuse entrance to, deny admittance to
      exclude, bar, debar, ban, ostracize, banish, exile
      View synonyms
  • lock something up (also lock up)

    • 1Shut and secure something, especially a building, by fastening its doors with locks.

      ‘the diplomatic personnel locked up their building and walked off’
      ‘you could lock up for me when you leave’
      • ‘I go back to the bar and catch Cody before he locks up.’
      • ‘Iris raced out the door without bothering to lock her room up.’
      • ‘I shut the bedroom door, locked the house up and got my bike out of the shed.’
      • ‘Windows and doors were boarded up, shops were locked up and the gates to the castle were wide open.’
      • ‘It took me a minute to remember that today was Sunday and the building was locked up.’
      • ‘‘Shh,’ he put his finger to his lips and closed the door behind him, locking it up again.’
      • ‘I think the building was locked up for Christmas yesterday, so I'm not sure I know how this was delivered.’
      • ‘After shutting the door and locking it up, she turned to look at Hope.’
      • ‘We had no way of knowing how bad the fire was until we got into the building because obviously it had been locked up since Friday.’
      • ‘Civic centre buildings have been locked up as a result of the strike and are defended by the paramilitary police against protesters.’
      • ‘In October 2000, tenants say two employees of the company forced them all to move out of the building by using intimidation tactics like threats, dogs, locking the building up and shutting off electricity.’
      • ‘But, just weeks after the company opened a second shop in the district in Shipley town centre, the doors on all the stores have been locked up and there is no answer on any of its telephone lines.’
      • ‘But when the Evening Press called at the two-storey Kathryn Avenue building on the Pigeoncote industrial estate, it was locked up and shuttered from view with blinds.’
      1. 1.1Invest money in something so that it is not easily accessible.
        ‘vast sums of money locked up in pension funds’
        • ‘It is not always possible for investors to lock their money away long term.’
        • ‘And you might get an even better rate if you're prepared to lock the money away for a year or more.’
        • ‘Fixing your rates on savings may make sense, as long as you can afford to lock your money away, because if commentators are correct returns have further to fall.’
        • ‘I had quite a bit of money on deposit, but I couldn't lock it away, because I needed to live off it while I was studying.’
        • ‘Perhaps locking the money away in a non-liquid asset such as property is not the best option.’
        • ‘Fold in the automatic deduction - savings whisked away before I see it - the tax break, and the fact that the money is locked away so that it can't be splurged on a vacation or a new car, and you've got something pain free that makes you feel good.’
        • ‘If you do not want to lock your money away, an instant-access variable-rate account is another option - but the rate could fall if base is cut again.’
        • ‘In that case it probably makes sense to reduce the loan now, if you can afford to lock those savings away, as this will save additional interest.’
        • ‘So those shares will be locked away and will generate some extra dividend income for the family.’
        • ‘As members may be locking their money away for several decades, they may be willing to take a bit more risk to get a better return.’
        • ‘I don't want to lock his money away, so I tend to ignore notice or fixed-term accounts.’
        • ‘The duff bit about it is that you have to lock your money away for a full five years, the minimum investment is £2,000 and you have to reclaim a sizeable proportion of those returns via your tax return during each of those five years.’
        • ‘So why do some people earn lower interest by locking their money away?’
        • ‘This high level of tax relief makes pension vehicles far more attractive investments than most, but the drawback is that all money in the fund is locked away until retirement.’


Old English loc, of Germanic origin; related to German Loch hole.




Main definitions of lock in English

: lock1lock2



  • 1A piece of a person's hair that coils or hangs together.

    ‘she pushed back a lock of hair’
    • ‘Although the prince's letters to her do not survive, he is known to have sent her a lock of his hair and his portrait in miniature.’
    • ‘And it looks like she means it, too - it's been reported that Kate has actually given Jamie a lock of her hair.’
    • ‘He had thick black hair, a lock of which was hanging over his eye.’
    • ‘With a sigh, Sophie brushed a lock of brown hair out of her face.’
    • ‘His eyebrows knit angrily together under a lock of loose black hair.’
    • ‘He took a lock of my hair and brought it to his lips.’
    • ‘We all paused, turned to look at Sara in shock as she tugged self-consciously at a lock of pale hair.’
    • ‘She twisted a lock of her honey-colored hair around her finger and fluttered her eyelashes at me, pouting her soft full lips to look enticing.’
    • ‘Luke reached over and grabbed a lock of my dark hair.’
    • ‘She twisted a lock of bright hair between her fingers.’
    • ‘I don't remember what it was that we'd been talking about, but he suddenly reached out, and with a very gentle touch, moved a lock of hair off my face.’
    • ‘Kieran blew a lock of hair out of his eyes, exasperated.’
    • ‘He reached out and curled a lock of hair behind her ear.’
    • ‘She twirled a lock of his hair absently, whispering, ‘Will we see each other again?’’
    • ‘I twisted a lock of hair around my finger, a nervous habit of mine.’
    • ‘Blowing a lock of hair off of my face, I looked down at him.’
    • ‘She pushed a lock of dark hair out of her almond-shaped eyes.’
    • ‘Sarah twisted a lock of blonde hair around her finger.’
    • ‘My attention had been momentarily distracted by a lock of hair curling over his eye.’
    • ‘Emily flicks a lock of her red hair with her fingers.’
    tress, tuft, curl
    ringlet, kiss-curl, lovelock, forelock, plait
    strand, wisp
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1literary A person's hair.
      ‘flowing locks and a long white beard’
      • ‘Andy sighs and runs his hand through his silver locks.’
      • ‘Earlier, without any joy, the coach had demanded the player shave off his flowing ginger locks and wild beard combo.’
      • ‘He had chopped off his unruly black locks and his hair was now short and neat.’
      • ‘When it comes to length, Danilo suggests those with curly locks keep hair short or very long.’
      • ‘He was a striker who started wide and cut this way and that, long, blond locks flowing behind.’
    2. 1.2A tuft of wool or cotton.
      • ‘Fringe your dappled fawnskin cloaks with wooly tufts and flowers, and locks of purest white.’
    3. 1.3
      short for dreadlocks


Old English locc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lok, German Locke, possibly also to lock.