Why Is A Bottle Opener Called A Church Key?

Most of us have seen a bottle opener at some point in our lives and have used them multiple times. But, have you ever wondered why these devices are actually called “church keys”?

While the answer may surprise you, the history of these tools is quite interesting and steeped in the 1800’s. From the original meaning of the term to attractive and useful designs, delve into the history of the church key and learn why this tool is so named today.

Why is a Bottle Opener Called a Church Key?

The simple answer to why a bottle opener is called a church key is that they both share a similar shape.

Church keys are typically triangular, with a wedge-shaped tip on one end and a lever on the other. Bottle openers also have the same shape, though they may have an additional hole near or in the center for easier grip and leverage.

Origins of the Term “Church Key”

The term “church key” actually has its origins in the late 1800s, when it was used as a tool to open bottles of beer.

Commonly known then as a “bottle opener,” the tool was referred to as a church key due to its resemblance to the keys used to unlock churches.

Other Uses of the Term

The term has been used to refer to a variety of other objects as well, such as a type of naval anchor (“church key anchor”), a post hole digger, a pry bar, a machinist tool (known as a “church key wrench”), and more.

It has also been used as a nickname for a variety of items, including firefighters’ axes and a type of automobile fuel cap opener.

Modern Bottle Openers

Modern bottle openers have evolved considerably from their church key predecessors. They are now made of a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and stainless steel.

Some bottle openers are even designed in the shape of a key or a cross, allowing them to be specifically identified as a church key.


The term “church key” has come to mean many different things, but its original and most common use is in reference to a type of bottle opener resembling an old-style church key. They have come a long way in terms of design and materials used, but the name still carries with it a timeless connection to the days when bottle openers looked like the keys used to unlock churches.

Citations:- https://en. oxforddictionaries.

com/definition/church_key- https://www. themanual. com/food-and-drink/what-is-a-church-key/- https://www. tailgatesandtanlines. com/how-did-the-church-key-get-its-name/- https://www. thespruce. com/what-is-a-church-key-760602

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