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
b : the pin that stands in the middle of a triangular arrangement of bowling pins
b : a pin connecting the two parts of a knuckle joint (as in an automobile steering linkage)

Keep scrolling for more

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 As Mark Walter, Dodgers owner and hedge-fund kingpin with a net worth of $3.3 billion? Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Who wants to shame a billionaire? MLB's owners won't act unless their hands are forced," 15 June 2020 This 2019 crime drama is based on an actual 1957 incident, when roughly 100 members of the Mafia, from all across the United States, were summoned by mob kingpin Vito Genovese (Robert Davi) to a remote upstate New York estate. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "What’s on TV Saturday, June 13, plus Sunday talk shows," 12 June 2020 Starring Tom Hardy as the gangland kingpin in his final decline, it’s written and directed by Josh Trank. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Capone” Is a Hallucinatory Vision of Gangland’s Fallen Monster," 11 May 2020 Alcalá moved to Colombia two years ago after breaking ranks with Maduro’s government, which calls him a drug kingpin. Los Angeles Times, "Maduro buoyed, Guaidó reeling after failed amphibious raid in Venezuela," 10 May 2020 President Nicolás Maduro on Monday named a powerful ally declared by the U.S. as a drug kingpin and the cousin of the late socialist leader Hugo Chávez to revamp Venezuela’s oil industry amid massive gasoline shortages. Fox News, "Venezuela's Maduro hires Chavez cousin, drug kingpin for powerful oil industry roles," 28 Apr. 2020 Mexican drug cartels and the daughter of famed kingpin El Chapo have been providing branded aid to people suffering from economic losses during the coronavirus pandemic. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "El Chapo's daughter hands out coronavirus aid featuring imprisoned father's face," 17 Apr. 2020 This over-the-top action comedy stars Matthew McConaughey as a marijuana kingpin at the center of multiple assassination, robbery and general payback schemes of varying levels of success. Andrea Park, Marie Claire, "10 Best Action Movies of 2020," 8 Apr. 2020 Mario Tabraue first gained notoriety as a drug kingpin who used his private zoo to cover up his other operations. Gina Vaynshteyn,, "A Guide To Help You Keep Track Of Every Player In Netflix’s Tiger King Docuseries," 30 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of kingpin

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about kingpin

Time Traveler for kingpin

Time Traveler

The first known use of kingpin was in 1773

See more words from the same year

Statistics for kingpin

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Kingpin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for kingpin


How to pronounce kingpin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of kingpin

: a person who controls an organization or activity

More from Merriam-Webster on kingpin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kingpin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kingpin

Comments on kingpin

What made you want to look up kingpin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!