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

To everyone declaring Clemson the new kingpin of college football, don't forget that team from Tuscaloosa. Creg Stephenson |, al, "Alabama vs. Duke 2019 live stream; time, TV channel, odds, watch online," 31 Aug. 2019 New York -- Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, who spent more than three decades jailing criminals from mob kingpins and drug-dealing killers to a tax-dodging Harvard dean, died Sunday. CBS News, "Robert Morgenthau, longest-serving Manhattan DA who inspired “Law and Order” character, has died at 99," 22 July 2019 Morgenthau, who died Sunday at 99, just 10 days before turning 100, spent nearly half his life jailing criminals from mob kingpins and drug-dealing killers to a tax-dodging Harvard dean. Fox News, "Former Manhattan DA Morgenthau dead at 99," 22 July 2019 His life sentence may finally bring an end to the drug kingpin’s notorious and prolific criminal career. Catherine Kim, Vox, "Vox Sentences: A global health emergency in the DRC," 18 July 2019 The film follows the true-life story of Tex Gill, a transgender man who became a crime kingpin in the 1970s. Tara Edwards,, "Scarlett Johansson Sparks Backlash By Saying She’s Allowed To Play Anything — Even A Tree," 14 July 2019 Chevron drew heat for the meeting after the government released a photo showing the two men sitting down with Maduro and Vice President Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who the U.S. had sanctioned months earlier as a drug kingpin. Washington Post, "Will Trump let Chevron stay in Venezuela?," 16 July 2019 Uncle Henry, our ex-pimp, ex–drug-kingpin of an elder. Mitchell S. Jackson, Harper's magazine, "Opportunity Cost," 10 Feb. 2019 In its latest use-what-already-exists effort, the brand partnered with Dockers, the 33-year-old khaki kingpin, to recut and reinterpret overstocked chinos—normally delegated to the dump or a discount dealer like TJ Maxx. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Does ‘Sustainable Fashion’ Really Mean Anything?," 17 June 2019

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

4 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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