An e-commerce buzzword that thankfully (at least as far as I can tell) seems to be falling out of favour. Usually seen in the phrase "turnkey solution", it promises a computer or technological setup for which you, theoretically, can simply "turn the key" and off you go, just like with a car.

What most "turnkey" systems developers fail to mention is the small but phenomenal fee you need to pay in order to keep the system idiot-proof, not to mention the development cost associated with hardening the system against your unique brand of idiots in the first place.

In real estate, turnkey refers to a house, apartment, business site, or other facility that is built so that a generic owner can start using it -- either by moving in, or through renting it out -- without further development. This is sometimes contrasted to build-to-order, but you can also have turnkey built-to-order facilities; the key feature is that in turnkey constructions the contractor is legally responsible for all aspects of the design, and the new owner should not have to make sufficient changes to shift this legal responsibility.

Turn"key` (?), n.; pl. Turnkeys ().


A person who has charge of the keys of a prison, for opening and fastening the doors; a warder.

2. Dentistry

An instrument with a hinged claw, -- used for extracting teeth with a twist.


© Webster 1913.

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