Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one keynote or multiple keynotes.)
Concretely, a keynote is the first note of a musical scale--it sets the tone for the scale. Abstractly, a keynote is the important, central idea within something. (That's the meaning we'll focus on.)
You're familiar with the phrase "keynote address," meaning the most important speech given at an event. That speech sets the tone for the event and expresses its most important ideas.
There's the plural, "keynotes," which you won't see too often. "Keynote" is also a verb: you keynote an event (give the keynote address), or you just keynote. Finally, people use "keynote" like an adjective in phrases like "keynote address," "keynote speaker," "keynote interview," and "keynote remarks."
How to use it:
Talk about something being the keynote of something bigger, as in "Tranquility is the keynote of this beach park" and "Persistence is the keynote of his book." Along those same lines, there are many ways to talk about something's keynote: for a start, you can establish, find, express, perceive, appreciate, misunderstand, lack, approve of, and take issue with the keynote of something.
Haunting and odd storytelling is the keynote of most albums by the Decemberists.
The need to find one's place in a complex society is the highly resonant keynote of many young adult novels.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "keynote” means when you can explain it without saying “central theme" or “fundamental idea."
Think of a time you watched, read, or listened to something, only to ask yourself, "What was the point of that?" and fill in the blank: "Maybe there was some subtle keynote to be found in _____, but if so, I missed it."
Example: "Maybe there was some subtle keynote to be found in the novel Pandora Gets Vain, but if so, I missed it. All I noticed was a silly protagonist going off on an easy journey with tons of help and almost no obstacles."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for May is: “What Do These Words Have in Common?”
The three words given will have something specific in common. (More than one right answer might be possible, but I've only got one particular answer in mind for each set of words.) I've arranged the questions from easiest to hardest, so today’s should be moderately difficult. By the end of the month, expect some whoppers.
What do these words have in common?: glossophobia, claustrophobia, aerophobia
Answer: These are the three most common fears among us, in order: glossophobia (fear of public speaking, the most common of all), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), and aerophobia (fear of flying.)
Try this one today: atlas, Braille, guppy
A Point Well Made:
Andre Gide: “Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.”
1. The opposite of KEYNOTE is
A. PERIPHERAL IDEA
B. INAPPROPRIATE EXPRESSION
C. DETAILED THEORY
2. Eventually, she would look back and perceive that _____ was the keynote of her internship.
A. winning the battle with the photocopier
B. getting ink stains out of a silk dress
C. learning to prioritize limitless tasks
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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