Key word vs keyword

  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    These are two totally different contexts. In s1, they're words that are key/important. In s2, they're search-related keywords.

    You'll have to decide which is appropriate for your use.
     

    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Copyright,

    Thanks for your nice reply.

    Let me confirm one thing.
    Do you mean as follows?

    Key word is a word that is key/important.
    Keyword is a search-related word.
    These meanings don't depend on the context or the usage and are fixed.

    In other words, I'd like to know if their meanings depend on the context or the usage because you emphasized context or usage.

    You said "You'll have to decide which is appropriate for your use. "
    So I think you mean their meanings don't depend on the context or the usage. But it's a little bit ambiguous for me.
    Please help me.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    The one-word "keyword" could be considered as a special use of the two-word version "key word". If you write an article and are asked to provide a few keywords to help people find the article, you will almost certainly choose words that are important to the subject.
     

    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Hildy1,

    Thanks for your nice reply.

    Do you mean their meanings don't depend on the context or the usage and are fixed?

    So sorry to ask the same question many times.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In AE, either is correct, whatever the meaning, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, which I consider the most reliable source.
     

    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Parla,

    I looked up the words in American Heritage Dictionary.
    It says as in the quotation marks.

    "keyword also key word n. 1. A word that serves as a key to code or cipher. 2. A significant or descriptive word. 3. A word used as a reference point for finding other words or information."

    So I think the meanings of keyword and key word are quite the same.
    So I think their meanings do depend on the context or the usage.

    Am I right?

    note.
    The phrase in the quotation marks is quoted from American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Setting aside the dictionary, I'll just tell you how I use the words I mentioned in post 2:

    In the first line of the second amendment, a key word is "militia": A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.*

    To help people find our company online, we are including these keywords: drain cleaning, roto-rooter, plumbing repair.

    I only use keyword in a search context. Others can do as they like. :)


    *Although this version is better: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
     

    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Copyright,

    Thanks for your nice replies.

    I agree with you about the explanation of dictionaries. They usually omit small differences between similar words because they have to list many entries. I well understand their situation or standpoint.

    Your new explanation is so clear for me and all of my questions are completely solved.

    Thanks.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    My point was that you can spell it either as one word or two; both are considered correct in AE. (Yes, you've quoted the dictionary correctly.)
     

    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Parla,

    Thanks for your nice reply.

    Yes, now I know both are correct.
    But my point is their meanings or nuances are the same or different.
    Are their meanings or nuances the same or different?
    What do you think or feel?
     
    Their meanings are totally different, we're not talking about "nuances." :) I think that got lost in the spelling discussions. As Copyright said in post 2, "These are two totally different contexts. In s1, they're words that are key/important. In s2, they're search-related keywords."

    Identifying some words out of a bigger text as being extremely important or relevant for understanding is a subjective judgement and an action of "labeling" somewhat similar to identifying the actual topic(s). You might circle some words in teaching students to grasp the essence of what is being said, or even just write them down for yourself as quick notes. That is s1.

    s2 is an aid to more efficient online searching for texts or a particular text, rather like having placed markers or tabs in dictionaries or encyclopedias in pre-internet, real-book days.

    Judging and selecting is not at all the same as searching.

    If I write "The whole city of Paris is beautiful" I can say I find two words that are essential,PARIS, BEAUTIFUL. Those words are "key." That is what my sentence is "about" as opposed to finding subjects and verbs.

    If my little sentence gets published online and I want to search for it, that is keywording, trying to find it out of the millions of hits on the internet I'd get if I just enter "Paris."

    I notice my pronunciation as far as stress goes is different:


    s1 "The key WORDS are "Paris" and Beautiful."

    s2. "Some keywords (by me pronounced something like KEE-wards) to find my sentence might be "Paris" or "beautiful."

    My preference is to use only key word for essence and keyword for search. Even for those who use keyword for both, it may well be that many do in fact stress the words differently in speech.
     
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    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Dale Texas,

    Thanks for your nice reply.

    Your explanation is so powerful, full of confidence, and blowing everything away.
    I'm so happy to know you have the same opinion as Copyright.
    I feel the ice crystal in my brain, my question, is melting away.

    Thanks.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    So I think their meanings do depend on the context or the usage.
    Indeed they do, keeley, as do so many words in English.

    Even written as one word, "keyword" can have different meanings. In a search-related context, the meaning is the one already described by others, above. In the context of cyphers or codes, it's a word that provides a basis for encoding and decoding a message. In a sentence such as "Secrecy is the keyword in this operation", it means that secrecy is the most important factor or consideration.

    Ws
     

    keeley_h

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Wordsmyth,

    Thanks for your nice reply.

    Now I well understand the difference between key word and keyword is a very, very subtle problem.

    Thanks.
     

    Marcius Sanctus

    Senior Member
    Brazil
    I understood a little, BUT in the example above should I write keywords or key words when I write an essay and put an abstract. also, the one with hyphen exists? key-words??

    Abstract

    Keywords/key words: Workers. Poverty. Exploration and social protection.

    Thanks in advance.
     
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