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

Other Words from pivotal

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

Synonyms for pivotal


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 This month rocket strikes destroyed a road and railroad bridges pivotal for Russian resupply of forces on the west bank, to the south of Nikopol, closer to Kherson. New York Times, 1 Aug. 2022 But Shasby and the Seawolves were able to benefit from pivotal new policies the NCAA instituted in recent years. Josh Reed, Anchorage Daily News, 31 July 2022 The response to some of the worst flooding in Kentucky’s history entered a pivotal phase Saturday as the search for victims accelerated over a battered stretch of central Appalachia. Mike Ives, BostonGlobe.com, 30 July 2022 These down-ballot races often don’t involve household names but could prove pivotal in states such as Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio, whose state supreme courts are closely divided on ideological or political lines. Deanna Paul, WSJ, 30 July 2022 Indeed, the video showcased Carey in a new light–the world got to see the superstar as her own self, perhaps for the very first time, and fashion was the pivotal tool to achieve that. José Criales-unzueta, Vogue, 29 July 2022 As if any particular workout was some pivotal, all-encompassing, life-defining moment. Amy Eisinger, M.a., SELF, 29 July 2022 While there were pivotal goals and moments, the boys from a collection of schools played as a unit of one. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, 27 July 2022 And there's that small but pivotal role for Kutcher, who plays a suit-wearing West Texas guru with a dark side. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, 26 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of pivotal

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Learn More About pivotal

Time Traveler for pivotal

Time Traveler

The first known use of pivotal was in 1838

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near pivotal



pivotal fault

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pivotal

Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pivotal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pivotal. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on pivotal

Nglish: Translation of pivotal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pivotal for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!