Locksmith Lingo

11 Mar Locksmith Lingo

Speaking to an expert in their trade can be overwhelming. Here are terms you might hear from a locksmith. You can also use the lingo to ensure you’re communicating properly with your locksmith.


The distance from the edge of the door to the center of the doorknob or deadbolt. Standard backsets are 2-3/8” or 2-3/4” . Older doors might be set to 5”. This determines the length of your latch.

Cam lock

A small circular lock found in toolboxes and cabinets. Inexpensive and customizable.


The center-rotating portion of the lock.

Entrance set

A locking doorknob or lever. The outside of the set has key access to lock or unlock, the inside has a push button or thumb turn to lock or unlock. Can be left unlocked.


The cutout in the lock where the key enters. Determines the type of key needed to operate the lock.


The part of the knob or deadbolt that extends into the doorframe and retracts into the door. It’s the part of the lock that keeps the door closed and locked.

Master Key

A key that will operate all locks set up to allow it. Each lock will have it’s own unique key that works in addition to the master key that will open multiple locks.

Master pins

Shorter pins that work in addition with regular pins. These pins allow for different keys to operate the same lock.

Mortise lock

The circular lock used in most commercial buildings. You’ll see it on front doors to apartment buildings, storefronts, and security gates.

Passage set

A doorknob or lever that does not lock. Allows free passage through the door with no key required on either side.


The internal parts of a lock that allow it to lock tight or free spin. Spring-loaded pins of different heights are put into a lock to match the depths of the cuts in a key.

Privacy set­

A locking doorknob or lever. The inside of the set has a push button or thumb turn to lock the door. The outside does not require a key, but will unlock with a simple everyday item. Something like a flathead screwdriver or a poker will open it. Also known as a bathroom lock.


The act of “changing a lock”. Internal pins will be removed and replaced with different pins of varying heights. The old key will no longer operate the lock and new keys will be provided.


One of the more common manufacturers of locks with one of the more common keyways. Pronounced shlag. This lock cannot be keyed the same as Weiser or Kwikset. Can only be matched to other Schlage locks.

Storeroom set

A locking doorknob or lever. Has no button or thumb turn on the inside. Allows free passage to exit from the inside. Requires a key to unlock from the outside. This set cannot be left unlocked. It locks as soon as the door closes and requires a key every time to open from the outside.


The hole in the doorframe where your doorknob or deadbolt latch inserts. The strike plate is the metal plate on the doorframe that strengthens frame in this spot. Adjustments to your strike can make it easier to close and lock your door.

Thumb turn

The inside part of the lock that you turn manually to lock and unlock the door. The inside of your deadbolt or mortise lock is a thumb turn.


A round key and lock. Seen commonly on bike locks, pop machines and vending machines. Sometimes seen on safes.


Flat spring loaded pieces in some locks. They serve the same purpose as pins, but are used as a lightweight or space saving alternative. Used commonly in cam locks, automotive locks, and other locks. They move up and down to match it’s coinciding key

Weiser and Kwikset

Pronounced wiser and quickset. The other more common manufacturers of locks. Kwikset and Weiser are now the same company and use the same keys, but old Weiser keys do not fit into Kwikset and new Weiser locks. Kwikset keys are thinner, and will fit in all new and old models of Weiser locks. Old Weiser keys are wider and will only fit in Weiser locks. Your locksmith can cut your current old Weiser keys onto new Kwikset keys in order to have one key to operate all locks.


< View All Blog Posts