piv·​ot·​al | \ ˈpi-və-tᵊl How to pronounce pivotal (audio) \

Definition of pivotal

1 : of, relating to, or constituting a pivot
2 : vitally important : critical

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Other Words from pivotal

pivotally \ ˈpi-​və-​tᵊl-​ē How to pronounce pivotally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for pivotal


critical, crucial, key, vital

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Examples of pivotal in a Sentence

She is at a pivotal point in her career. the report was missing a pivotal piece of information

Recent Examples on the Web

The necklace played a pivotal role in the film, and was worn by Kate Winslet’s character Rose DeWitt Bukater who tossed the iconic piece of jewelry into the sea following the sinking of the luxury liner. Matt Mcnulty, PEOPLE.com, "Her Heart Will Go On! Céline Dion Sports Lookalike Version of Iconic Titanic Necklace in Paris," 3 July 2019 An award of that size would have likely been impossible if not for statutory amendments that Parker McCay played a pivotal role in incorporating into the legislative design,’’ according to the report. Jeff Pillets, ProPublica, "More Instances of Fraud and Mismanagement Over New Jersey Tax Incentives Surface in New Report," 18 June 2019 The finches of the Galapagos islands unwittingly played a pivotal role in scientific history, helping Charles Darwin formulate his theories of natural selection. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Parasites Are Ruining the Lovesongs of Darwin’s Finches," 13 June 2019 If Republicans balk, Democrats can use it to fire up the base in a pivotal election this fall, when Democrats are trying to erase the two-seat majority the GOP holds in each chamber and seize control of the legislature. Washington Post, "‘A rare position’: Va. Gov. Ralph Northam could wind up with great power, months after almost resigning," 10 June 2019 Ironically, her own right to vote in Tuesday’s pivotal midterm elections of 2018 is a somewhat confusingly grey area. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Is Meghan Markle Voting? Kensington Palace Won't Say," 6 Nov. 2018 Displays honor famous politicians that lost pivotal elections, legendary job seekers that got turned down for important jobs, now-immortal inventions that nobody wanted to bankroll. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "Museums We Never Knew We Were Missing," 9 Aug. 2018 There are also two pivotal statewide elections taking place in California. Maeve Reston, CNN, "All eyes on California on the biggest primary night of 2018," 5 June 2018 The latest push builds off of a 2006 effort by Democrats to push an anti-corruption message ahead of a pivotal midterm election. Maya Rhodan, Time, "Democrats Plan to Highlight Trump Scandals in the Fall Elections," 21 May 2018

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

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Statistics for pivotal

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for pivotal

The first known use of pivotal was in 1838

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English Language Learners Definition of pivotal

: very important

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More from Merriam-Webster on pivotal

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Spanish Central: Translation of pivotal

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Britannica English: Translation of pivotal for Arabic Speakers

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