Church key

Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Tue Apr 4 18:00:47 UTC 2000

I have to agree with you on this point, Lynn.  A church key is a can and a
bottle opener--The flat kind.  All church keys are bottle openers, but not
all bottle openers are church keys.

I seem to remember a WWII film (KELLY'S HEROES?) in which one or more of the
soldiers wore one of the flat metal variety on a chain along with his dog
tags.  I cannot remember if he called it a church key.  I'm not even sure of
the film.  No, no, no.  It was M*A*S*H, and in his first scene Trapper
(Elliot Gould) pulls the key out of his shirt to open a can of beer he's
carrying.  Koren War, not WWII, same Vietnam/60s sensibilities . . . and
both star Donald Sutherland.  Can somebody (Barry) nail down the first
usage?  Were these in use in Korea during the war?  BTW, I don't think
anyone did address the opener by name.

> From: Lynne Murphy <lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 18:37:32 +0100
> Subject: Re: Church key
> My understanding was that a church key is one of those things that are
> completely metal and have a rounded end on one side for opening a bottle and a
> pointy end at the other side for opening cans.

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