king·​pin | \ ˈkiŋ-ˌpin How to pronounce kingpin (audio) \

Definition of kingpin

1 : the chief person in a group or undertaking
2 : any of several bowling pins: such as
a : headpin
b : the pin that stands in the middle of a triangular arrangement of bowling pins
3a : kingbolt
b : a pin connecting the two parts of a knuckle joint (as in an automobile steering linkage)

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Examples of kingpin in a Sentence

kingpins of the movie industry a police sting that nabbed several kingpins of the city's drug trade

Recent Examples on the Web

Graver aims to start a war between Mexican drug cartels by kidnapping a kingpin's daughter (Isabela Moner). Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'Sicario' star Josh Brolin is smiling over his killer summer, even with superhero deaths," 26 June 2018 Ultraviolent cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar is long dead and Colombia’s half-century-old guerrilla war is over. John Otis, WSJ, "Colombia Wants to Boost Its National Sport. That Might Mean Less Beer.," 4 Dec. 2018 Former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton supported the death penalty for drug kingpins in egregious cases. Carla K. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Q&A: Feds tackle opioid epidemic, but is it helping?," 28 Jan. 2019 The three men were sanctioned under a U.S. law targeting drug kingpins. Justin Sink,, "Pence Demands That Venezuela Suspend ‘So-Called’ Elections," 7 May 2018 Due to divisional play, that was the only matchup between the MAC East (UB) and MAC West (UT) kingpins. Elton Alexander,, "MAC Tournament 2018: Toledo Rockets are Cleveland's team at The Q," 7 Mar. 2018 These were the romantic partners of major offenders—drug kingpins or traffickers—who were caught up in the take-down of a ring. Hayley Krischer, Marie Claire, "How Heroin Came for Middle-Class Moms," 20 Aug. 2018 MacGyver Mac, Jack and Riley (Lucas Till, George Eads, Tristin Mays) head to Chernobyl to rescue an informant abducted by an underworld kingpin who doesn't want the man talking to the CIA. Ed Stockly,, "Friday's TV highlights: 'Hawaii Five-0' on CBS," 9 Mar. 2018 Law enforcement groups around the world, including the FBI, Interpol, and Canadian and Italian agencies, have successfully indicted and arrest various kingpin scammers. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Nigerian Email Scammers Are More Effective Than Ever," 3 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kingpin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of kingpin

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Statistics for kingpin

Last Updated

1 May 2019

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Time Traveler for kingpin

The first known use of kingpin was in 1773

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More Definitions for kingpin



English Language Learners Definition of kingpin

: a person who controls an organization or activity

More from Merriam-Webster on kingpin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kingpin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kingpin

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