hold the key

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hold the key

To contain or provide the missing element or necessary explanation for something. Scientists are scouring the rainforest for medicinal plants in the hope that one of them holds the key to curing cancer. This passage holds the key to understanding the entire novel.
See also: hold, key
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
"It were better that you held the key, Tars Tarkas," I replied
She held the key in her fingers, and she looked in upon them.
She had locked the door, and now held the key in her hand, as she threw herself wearily into a chair that stood out of its place in the middle of the house floor, where in ordinary times she would never have consented to sit.
It feared nothing that moved or talked save the colonel and the regimental Roman Catholic chaplain, the fat Father Dennis, who held the keys of heaven and hell, and blared like an angry bull when he desired to be convincing.
CHELSEA coach Carlo Ancelotti insists their league double over Manchester United held the key to Chelsea's first Premier League title in four years.
The new rector also held the key post of chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury under both Dr George Carey and Dr Rowan Williams.
In the first half they held the key and told them we needed them to play better."
Rustin felt a joining of civil rights and labor held the key to the future, which is why he encouraged King to come to Memphis to support a sanitation workers' strike--the scene of King's assassination.