AskDefine | Define turnkey

Dictionary Definition

turnkey n : someone who guards prisoners [syn: prison guard, jailer, jailor, gaoler, screw]

User Contributed Dictionary



From turn + key.


  1. ready to use without further assembly or test; supplied in a state that is ready to turn on and operate (typically refers to an assembly that is outsourced for manufacture)
    They wanted a turnkey solution for the entire system, but we could only provide the enclosure.


ready to use without further assembly


  1. A warder or jailer / goaler; keeper of the keys in a prison
    • 1836, Charles Dickens, ''The Pickwick papers''
      ...they passed through an open door into a lobby, from which a heavy gate, opposite to that by which they had entered, and which was guarded by a stout turnkey with the key in his hand, led at once into the interior of the prison.


  1. to supply a turnkey product; to supply something fully assembled and ready to use
    We can sell you all the parts, or we can turnkey the entire unit.

Extensive Definition

A turnkey or a turnkey project is a project in which separate entities are responsible for setting up a plant or equipment (e.g. trains/infrastructure) and for putting it into operation. It can include contractual actions at least through the system, subsystem, or equipment installation phase and may include follow-on contractual actions, such as testing, training, logistical, and operational support. It is often given to the best bidder in a procurement process.
Turnkey projects can also be extended, known as turnkey plus, where there is perhaps a small equity interest by the supplier and it will later on continue its operation through a management contract or licensing.

Common usage

Turnkey refers to something that is ready for immediate use, generally used in the sale or supply of goods or services. The term is common in the construction industry, for instance, in which it refers to the bundling of materials and labor by sub-contractors. A "turnkey" job by a plumber would include the parts (toilets, tub, faucets, pipes, etc.) as well as the plumber's labor, without any contribution by the general contractors.
This is commonly used in motorsports to describe a car being sold with drivetrain (engine, transmission, etc.) as racer may prefer to keep the pieces to use in another vehicle to preserve a combination. Similarly, this term may be used to advertise the sale of an established business, including all the equipment necessary to run it, or by a business-to-business supplier providing complete packages for business start-up

Specific usage

The term turnkey is also often used in the technology industry, most commonly to describe pre-built computer "packages" in which everything needed to perform a certain type of task (e.g. audio editing) is put together by the supplier and sold as a bundle. This often includes a computer with pre-installed software, various types of hardware, and accessories. Such packages are commonly called appliances.
Note: In the United States, the precise definition of the types of allowable contractual features for government contracts are contained in the Federal Acquisition Regulations.
In real estate, Turn-Key is defined as delivering a location that is ready for occupation. The Turn-Key process includes all of the steps involved to open a location including the site selection, negotiations, space planning, construction coordination and complete installation.
Historically, the term once referred to jailers, as the holders of a prison's keys, as in Charles Dickens' 1840 novel, Barnaby Rudge.
turnkey in German: Schlüsselfertiges Bauen
turnkey in Spanish: Llave_en_mano
turnkey in Dutch: Turnkey-project
turnkey in Portuguese: Turn key
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