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Are keyrings and keychains the same?

Are keyrings and keychains the same?

What is the difference between keychain and keyring? If you’ve searched or shopped online for a handy attachment for your keys or a lucky charm to hang from them you may have noticed that these objects are often referred to as both “keyrings” and “keychains” – but what is the difference? Are keyrings and keychains the same?

In this quick overview blog post we’ll tell you all you need to know about the difference between keyrings and keychains.

Quick links

The difference between keyrings and keychains
Does "keyring" refer to the part or the whole?
Are keychains always made with chains?
What are keyfobs?
Conclusion

The Difference Between Keyrings and Keychains

So, are keyrings and keychains the same? The short answer is that yes, keyrings and keychains are the same thing. “Keyring” is traditionally the term used in British English, whereas “keychain” is more often used in American English. It’s common for these two languages to have some small differences in terminology and spelling, which is why at Create Gift Love we refer to our most popular gift category as “personalised keyrings” rather than “personalized keychains”. However, for all intents and purposes they refer to the same thing, and it’s unlikely that our American customers would have trouble understanding the phrase as they are so similar.

Both terms can be used interchangeably to describe the small objects used to carry, organise and identify sets of keys. The basic design usually involves a sturdy ring, clasp or chain to link onto the key, typically with some form of charm, label or accessory attached to it. You can find out more about the different parts of keyrings by reading this guide.
 
If these attachments can be made with rings or chains, then, you may be wondering whether this changes the term used to describe them. Does the word “keyring” refer to the metallic ring part of the accessory as a whole? And are keychains always made with a chain? Let’s delve into it.


Does “keyring” refer to the round component or the whole product?

Sometimes the word keyring is used to describe the metal (or plastic) ring shaped attachment used to link keys together. While this is not incorrect, the part being referred to here is actually called a “split ring”. Usually made from a durable metal, such as stainless steel or solid brass, a split ring has a circular design with overlapping layers which can be prised open and threaded through the hole at the top of a key to keep multiple keys together or to attach a charm.

The split ring was invented by Samuel Harrison in the 19th century and has since become the most popular way of holding keys together. As mentioned earlier, sometimes the word “keyring” is used to refer specifically to the split ring, however it is widely recognised that keyrings (and indeed keychains) can be made from a number of components, including charms clasps and chains, as well as Harrison’s split ring. That is to say, something can be called a “keyring” without necessarily being made with a ring component. Both “keyring” and “keychain” refer to the object as a whole.


Are keychains always made with chains?

In a similar vein, if keyring can refer to the ring element itself, does that mean that keychains are always made with a chain attachment? Again, the answer is no. 
 
While link chains are sometimes used to hold keys or charms, and is perhaps where the term “keychain” originated, it is not always the case that a keychain product is made with a chain attachment. The word “keychain” can be used interchangeably with “keyring” and refers to any number of key accessories. Keyring and keychain have the same definition – they are small objects used to carry, organise and identify our keys.


What are keyfobs?

You may have heard the term “keyfob” be used in place of keyring or keychain. While “keyfob” would be understood in conversation as a stand-in for keyring or keychain, key fob typically refers to a small electronic device used in place of a conventional key, for example to open cars or garage doors. Keyfobs are usually operated by a simple push button and are often attached to keyrings along with our household keys.


Conclusion

So there we are: keyrings, keychains and keyfobs. Each of these terms have a subtle difference and vary in use and popularity around the world – keyring being the conventional British term and keychain being popular in the USA – but they all refer to the same thing: the handy personal accessories we attach to our keys to hold them together, help us identify them and add our own style.

Are keyrings and keychains the same? The short answer is yes.