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

April of 1968, in particular, would catalyze a pivotal year that still reverberates today. Eric Ginsburg, Teen Vogue, "How April 1968 Changed the United States Forever," 19 Apr. 2019 The site is somewhat pivotal in terms of Shenandoah Valley wine history. Mike Dunne, sacbee, "Shenandoah Valley’s newest winery Paul J. Wines recognizes the old," 4 July 2018 The outcome of that primary and others across Pennsylvania are being closely watched because the state is so pivotal for Democrats come November. Eliza Collins, USA TODAY, "Trump-friendly immigration hardliner could win Democratic primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday," 14 May 2018 If the Wildcats want to enter all-time territory — dynasty-level stuff — then getting (Omari) Spellman and/or DiVincenzo back is probably pivotal. Gary Bedore, kansascity, "KU basketball lands another No. 1 ranking in early 2018-19 preseason polls | The Kansas City Star," 9 May 2018 Perhaps no player has been more pivotal to those late efforts than Machado. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Dixon Machado, Miguel Cabrera power Detroit Tigers to 6-5 win," 18 Apr. 2018 That scene in New Jack City was kind of pivotal because of where me and Cam was at, or where people thought me and Cam was at. Mark Elibert, Billboard, "Jim Jones on New Album 'Wasted Talent,' Status of 'Diplomatic Immunity 3' & Why 50 Cent 'Is a Genius'," 17 Apr. 2018 Tourism -- so pivotal to the country's economy -- took a major hit. Chris Scott, CNN, "A year after Hurricane Irma, Kyron McMaster wins BVI's first Commonwealth medal," 12 Apr. 2018 What of that has been most pivotal, in your opinion? Jane Wooldridge, miamiherald, "Who says nothing lasts? This CEO has worked in the same firm for 44 years," 11 Feb. 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

17 May 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pivotal

Spanish Central: Translation of pivotal

Nglish: Translation of pivotal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pivotal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pivotal

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


highly pertinent or appropriate

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