Yale is one of those brand names which has been around for ever.

enter image description here

But that type of lock (not the same as a mortice lock) must have a generic name.

  • 1
    What characteristics distinguish this kind of lock from other types?
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 18, 2015 at 15:50
  • @DanBron If you look at my link you will see. Is it sufficient to call it a night latch, or a deadlock ?
    – WS2
    Sep 18, 2015 at 15:51
  • Your link shows numerous kinds of lock sold under the Yale brand, including mortise locks.
    – bib
    Sep 18, 2015 at 15:55
  • 1
    @WS2 I did (click your link). I didn't (see what distinguishes this kind of lock). Mind elaborating and describing what you mean sir let in the body of your question?
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 18, 2015 at 16:03
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA I will have a go. Thanks. But rugby world cup about to start!
    – WS2
    Sep 18, 2015 at 18:58

5 Answers 5


Locks that set themselves when you pull or push the door closed are usually called latches (similar to cabinet latches). When the latch is separate from the door handle, especially if it is a surface mounted unit, it is usually called a night latch.

a door lock having a spring bolt operated from the outside by a key and from the inside by a knob Merriam-Webster

night latch

Locks that require the turning of a key or knob to set are usually called deadbolts, whether they are surface mounted or part of a mortise lock.

A bolt engaged by turning a knob or key, rather than by spring action. Oxford Dictionaries Online


Surface mounted deadbolts that have locking bars that drop down are often called vertical deadbolts (also called jimmy proof or jimmy resistant lock or deadbolt).

vert deadbolt

  • 1
    I am sure you have given the right answer. But when I had to call a locksmith the other day to replace one, I found the easiest way of describing it was to call it a Yale lock.
    – WS2
    Sep 18, 2015 at 16:24
  • @WS2 were you given a key with the lock? Because these are not locks and are different than the picture you posted which shows a Yale deadbolt. Sep 19, 2015 at 1:03
  • @michael_timofeev Yes the one installed, is as per the picture I posted. It had keys that open it from outside, but no key needed on the inside. Though you can turn the key anti-clockwise on the outside and secure the door so that it could not be opened from the inside. I don't know if there is a deadbolt involved. But since that door also has a mortice lock on it - there is perhaps no need.
    – WS2
    Sep 19, 2015 at 7:34

The lock that uses the familiar notched key inserted into a rotating cylinder is called a "cylinder lock", generally utilizing a "pin tumbler lock" mechanism internally.

The cylinder lock is quite ubiquitous, and is mainly distinguished from the old fashion "lever lock" scheme utilizing what many people may (somewhat erroneously) call a "skeleton key". However, some cheap padlocks and the like utilize a scheme similar to the lever lock internally, even though the keys vaguely resemble cylinder lock keys.

The lock with a knob on one side that can lock you in for the night is a "deadbolt lock". The deadbolt lock has a non-tapered "bolt" that is operated by some sort of toggle mechanism inside.

The lock with a knob (that you turn) on both sides is generally referred to as a "doorknob". Note that one of the knobs may contain a cylinder lock to allow the unit to be locked/unlocked from the "outside", and some sort of button on the other side to permit locking from the "inside".

A lock with a tapered, spring-operated "bolt", to permit the lock to automatically "catch" when the door is shut, is generally referred to as a "latch" or "spring latch" (though "spring bolt" is another term that is sometimes used). (Most doorknob assemblies incorporate a "latch".)

The Yale company manufactures most if not all of the above variations.

  • But the original Yale lock was the latch type, which, if the latch is down, automatically locks as the door closes. Your contribution is helpful, but I think the person who described it as a 'latch lock' has provided the answer I was seeking - unless you feel strongly to te contrary.
    – WS2
    Sep 18, 2015 at 18:42
  • @WS2 - It was unclear what attribute of the lock you were focusing on.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 18, 2015 at 18:44
  • We do use brand names differently, but in Britain when anyone says Yale lock I am pretty sure they mean a latch lock. Although nowadays of course many other manufacturers make those locks. What would be the short name for such a lock in your neck of the woods?
    – WS2
    Sep 18, 2015 at 18:54
  • @WS2 - Probably just a "door latch", though, of course, that suffers from being non-specific. (I associate "Yale" mostly with the deadbolt locks which had been retrofitted onto many doors when I first became aware of them ca 1955. The Yale cylinder was bright shiny brass, while everything else on the door was corroded.)
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 18, 2015 at 19:06
  • 1
    This is, without a doubt, the right answer. Yale invented the pin tumbler lock and that is why that type of lock is often called a Yale lock. The latch has nothing at all to do with the lock. On my front door, I have a Yale lock with a deadbolt type latch. And I am in Britain. Sep 18, 2015 at 21:39

They are called "pin tumbler" locks.

pin tumbler lock

The complete mechanism is called a deadbolt.



According to this article, and its linked companion, a Yale lock is known generically as a pin tumbler lock:

Yale is a lock manufacturer associated with the pin tumbler lock, which is often known as the Yale lock.

  • But the one in the picture is not a 'latch lock' which locks automatically when the door closes. That is what in Britain has always been called a Yale lock. I do realise that nowadays Yale make all kinds of locks.
    – WS2
    Sep 18, 2015 at 18:47
  • 1
    I agree with this. WS2's question was specific. The original post didn't have a picture which has two different kinds of locking mechanisms. This changes it and makes it ambiguous. Sep 19, 2015 at 1:16

You may be thinking of Cylinder Lock - described by Wikipedia as

a lock constructed with a cylinder that a locksmith can easily unscrew to facilitate rekeying

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