piv·​ot | \ ˈpi-vət How to pronounce pivot (audio) \

Definition of pivot

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a shaft or pin on which something turns
2a : a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect
b : a key player or position specifically : an offensive position of a basketball player standing usually with back to the basket to relay passes, shoot, or provide a screen for teammates
3 : the action of pivoting especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor



Definition of pivot (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : turning on or as if on a pivot
2 : pivotal


pivoted; pivoting; pivots

Definition of pivot (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to turn on or as if on a pivot

transitive verb

1 : to provide with, mount on, or attach by a pivot
2 : to cause to pivot

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Other Words from pivot


pivotable \ ˈpi-​və-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce pivotable (audio) \ adjective

Examples of pivot in a Sentence


an issue that is the real pivot of the controversy


The dancers pivoted on their toes and changed direction. The door hinge pivots around the pin. The quarterback pivoted and threw the ball to the running back.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This option gives students a chance to do an internship in their target industry or function in the summer between their first and second years, which can be critical in making a career pivot. Emilia Benton, Houston Chronicle, "MBAs help professionals advance, branch out careers," 6 Sep. 2019 The company is also in the midst of a pivot away from hardware devices to software services. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple," 27 June 2019 And for all the talk of a pivot to Asia, U.S. policy was once again mired in an effort to play catch-up in the Middle East, sucking up time, attention, and resources that were needed elsewhere. Hal Brands, National Review, "Lessons from the Iraq War," 20 June 2019 While every situation is different, these are the kind of days in which eras pivot. Tentacles from these three tidbits of news, and what happens next, will underline the remainder of their sterling careers. Conor Orr, SI.com, "Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning Showing Their Mortality as Quarterbacks," 16 Sep. 2019 The effort marks a hard pivot by activists, long frustrated by a decades-long stalemate in Congress over stricter gun laws, to press corporate America to take the lead in addressing the nation’s gun violence epidemic. NBC News, "Gun control coalition amps up pressure on corporations," 12 Sep. 2019 Harris’ pivot toward Iowa became evident in recent weeks as the campaign went on a hiring binge. Los Angeles Times, "Can Kamala Harris recapture the magic? She gets a shot in Thursday’s debate," 10 Sep. 2019 In the event e-commerce doesn’t pay off for Jumia as losses continue to mount, its management appears to already have a semblance of a strategic pivot in place. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Jumia wants to spin off its payments business as it struggles to stem mounting losses," 22 Aug. 2019 Contemplating how rust-belt workers flocked to Mr. Trump’s stridently nationalist message in 2016, many Democrats now regret that pivot. Greg Ip, WSJ, "Bush’s Economic Legacy, Little Appreciated Then, Reverberates Today," 3 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Green, however, clearly picked up his left pivot foot first, which was missed and likely should’ve been called a traveling violation. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Tempers spike in intense rivalry between Pacers, Cavs with Lance Stephenson in middle," 23 Apr. 2018 Struggling to keep her pivot foot at the top of the arc amid a double-team, her shovel pass found a wide-open Sabally for a layup and a 62-46 lead with 7:32 remaining. Andrew Greif, OregonLive.com, "Ducks women stay put, Beavers move up in AP poll," 22 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The pivoting tires dug 3-4 inches gouges in the lawn. Ellen Nibali, baltimoresun.com, "Garden Q&A: Why is my basil turning brown? And how does one repair tire marks in a yard?," 5 Sep. 2019 On the ground floor, a pivoting glass-and-marble-front door gives way to an open-concept floor plan. Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property: Football’s Reggie Bush lists his home field in Pacific Palisades," 24 Aug. 2019 When Darpa announced plans for another autonomous vehicle race, the 2007 Urban Challenge, Hall pivoted his speaker company, Velodyne, into the lidar business. Wired, "How Anthony Levandowski Put Himself at the Center of an Industry," 29 Aug. 2019 Scott immediately pivoted to the media landscape in 2024, when the Pac-12 will renegotiate its football and men’s basketball rights (everything currently on ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Networks). Jon Wilner, The Denver Post, "Pac-12 media strategy: Moving on from DirecTV, passing on ESPN’s offer and making a “different bet”," 21 Aug. 2019 The national conversation inevitably pivoted to gun violence and immigrant-bashing. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Did Beto O'Rourke make the right call by skipping the Iowa State Fair after El Paso massacre?," 9 Aug. 2019 In what seems at first like a digression, Williamson pivots to an examination of evolving conceptions of the afterlife and evolving ideas about what earthly conduct should properly condemn a soul to eternal torment. Noah Rothman, National Review, "Kevin Williamson’s Revolt against the Hivemind," 25 July 2019 Nearly every framing device that Pelosi has presented to justify her inaction pivots on the ostensible political cost of initiating impeachment proceedings during the 2020 election cycle. Elizabeth Spiers, The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi," 24 July 2019 But the moderators pivoted off the topic quickly, which is sure to frustrate activists who had been demanding a debate focused on climate only. orlandosentinel.com, "Key takeaways from night 1 of the Democratic debate in Miami," 26 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pivot.' 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 pivot


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1796, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1841, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for pivot



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Statistics for pivot

Last Updated

15 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pivot

The first known use of pivot was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pivot



English Language Learners Definition of pivot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a pin or shaft on which a mechanical part turns
: the action of turning around a point : the action of pivoting
: a person or thing that is central or important to someone or something else



English Language Learners Definition of pivot (Entry 2 of 2)

: to turn on or around a central point


piv·​ot | \ ˈpi-vət How to pronounce pivot (audio) \

Kids Definition of pivot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a shaft or pin with a pointed end on which something turns
2 : the action or an instance of turning around on a point


pivoted; pivoting

Kids Definition of pivot (Entry 2 of 2)

: to turn on or as if on a pivot : turn around on a central point pivot on one foot


piv·​ot | \ ˈpiv-ət How to pronounce pivot (audio) \

Medical Definition of pivot

: a usually metallic pin holding an artificial crown to the root of a tooth

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More from Merriam-Webster on pivot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pivot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pivot

Spanish Central: Translation of pivot

Nglish: Translation of pivot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pivot for Arabic Speakers

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