Definition of linchpin
- the linchpin in the defense's case
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
This witness is the linchpin of the defense's case.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'linchpin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
There was the good old custom of taking the linch-pins out of the farmers' and bagmens' gigs at the fairs, and a cowardly blackguard custom it was. That custom, described by British writer Thomas Hughes in his 1857 novel Tom Brown's School Days, was "blackguard" indeed. The linchpin in question held the wheel on the carriage and removing it made it likely that the wheel would come off as the vehicle moved. Such a pin was called a "lynis" in Old English; Middle English speakers added "pin" to form "lynspin." Modern English speakers modified it to "linchpin" and, in the mid-20th century, began using the term figuratively for anything as critical to a complex situation as a linchpin is to a wagon.
First Known Use: 13th centurySee Words from the same year
: a person or thing that holds something together : the most important part of a complex situation or system
What made you want to look up linchpin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz