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


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

Noun an issue that is the real pivot of the controversy Verb 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 was the sort of pivot point that had spelled the difference between winning and losing for the Astros all month. Dave Sheinin, The Denver Post, "The mighty Astros have lost their mojo, and they’re running out of time to get it back," 24 Oct. 2019 In a traditional aircraft, no part of the plane is ever significantly removed from the pivot point. Molly Quell, Ars Technica, "The Flying V would be unlike any other passenger airliner, even in 2040," 22 Oct. 2019 But there’s brand leverage here, too. Harnessing the MFA’s anniversary as a pivot-point is strategic, surely. BostonGlobe.com, "As museums evolve, the MFA marks 150th anniversary by embracing change - The Boston Globe," 11 Oct. 2019 But the $449 million building, which is opening for classes this summer, could also be a pivot point to something new. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Is CWRU-Clinic Health Education Campus just another big shiny box at a sprawling medical center? - Steven Litt," 14 July 2019 President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the Chinese telecom giant, which became one of the major pivot points of the trade negotiations between the United States and China, would be free to buy some products from U.S. tech companies. NBC News, "Despite China concessions, Trump encouraged to keep pressure on Huawei," 1 July 2019 The back-to-back debates on Wednesday and Thursday nights could be a pivot point in the Democrats’ primary campaign, which for months has seen candidates refraining from criticizing one another — or doing so only in veiled terms. Janet Hook, latimes.com, "The stakes are high as Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare to debate," 21 June 2019 China’s 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing is remembered as a pivot point in the country’s political evolution. Jeremy Page, WSJ, "1989 and the Birth of State Capitalism in China," 31 May 2019 His acceptance of Christianity and his establishment of an eastern capital city, which would later bear his name, mark his rule as a significant pivot point between ancient history and the Middle Ages. Kristin Baird Rattini, National Geographic, "Who was Constantine?," 25 Feb. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Past the front pivot door, a stroll leads through the living room that flaunts a floor-to-ceiling electric fireplace and cushy seating. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Zen area and cozy nooks bring indoor living outside in Gilbert home. Take a peek," 31 Oct. 2019 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 As Bush prepared to leave office, Sondland pivoted from political donations to charitable ones. oregonlive, "Gordon Sondland had influence on Capitol Hill long before he became ambassador, campaign contributions show," 8 Nov. 2019 In 2009, some of the most influential women in pop culture were pivoting their careers to become fashion industry leaders. Gina Marinelli, Glamour, "Lauren Conrad Started Her Fashion Brand 10 Years Ago. Her Influence Might Be Stronger Than Ever.," 28 Oct. 2019 In brisk dashes back to their offices, Senators Martha McSally of Arizona and Joni Ernst of Iowa, quickly pivoted to other issues such as rising health care costs, border security and the trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, "Vulnerable Senate Republicans Shrink From Defending Trump," 24 Oct. 2019 Unlike last year, when Ball's arrival brought national publicity to SPIRE, the focus is pivoting to its post-grad team. Matt Goul, cleveland, "A year after LaMelo Ball and Co., SPIRE shifts focus to post-graduate team," 24 Oct. 2019 But off stage, the governor pivoted to his own business dealings. Ken Ward Jr., ProPublica, "This Governor Still Guides His Billion-Dollar Business Empire, Even Though He Said He Wouldn’t," 18 Oct. 2019 The candidates then pivoted to jobs, wealth inequality, and foreign policy. Alex Chaet, CNN, "Watch the full CNN/New York Times Democratic debate," 16 Oct. 2019 After a quick rebuttal that notes his plan’s subsidies, Buttigieg deftly pivots back to his opening theme. Michael Scherer, The Denver Post, "What you missed while not watching Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate," 16 Oct. 2019 In 2017, after attending the Acceleprise incubator in San Francisco, LabFellows pivoted from a strict coworking model to a software-as-a-service model. Brittany Meiling, San Diego Union-Tribune, "From teen father to tech CEO: How LabFellows’ founder wound up designing ‘smarter’ labs," 14 Oct. 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

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for pivot

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

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More Definitions for pivot


How to pronounce pivot (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pivot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pivot

Spanish Central: Translation of pivot

Nglish: Translation of pivot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pivot for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pivot

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to speed up the process or progress of

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