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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The exhibit touches on Winfrey’s time in Baltimore, where a startling pivot in her career — a demotion from the news desk at WJZ-TV — led to her finding her calling in hosting a daytime talk show. Brittany Britto, baltimoresun.com, "In new Oprah exhibit, Smithsonian's African-American museum touches on her time in Baltimore," 7 June 2018 The moment the very idea of a turn entered my mind the skis seemed to pivot for me. Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Is Everyone Skiing on the Wrong Skis?," 21 Feb. 2019 This was a stark 180-degree pivot away from where the company’s plans were two years prior. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "YouTube Premium is changing because it has to," 29 Nov. 2018 But such a large pivot, says Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, is disconcerting. The Economist, "Upstart meal-kit companies may need a new recipe for growth," 12 Apr. 2018 Instead, pivot to the hearty tortas at nearby Los Tacos City Habanero taco truck. Ali Francis, Vogue, "7 Long Island City Restaurants You Should Try Before, Well, Amazon," 20 Nov. 2018 When the virtual pilot looks left, the monitors pivot to follow his field of view. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Tank That's Tougher Than Wildfire," 13 Nov. 2018 For a company once famous for barging into markets and asking for forgiveness rather than permission, this suggests a continued pivot towards more collaboration with cities. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Uber makes $10M bet on bikes and transit," 26 Sep. 2018 The pendulum arms connect via a pair of linkages to a horizontal bar mounted on a center pivot, which in turn is connected to a pair of scissor-style arms. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Thrustmaster TPR: The best flight sim pedals you can buy in a store like a normal person," 23 Sep. 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

Now, the defense appears to have pivoted from its lack of due process claim. Lily Herman, Teen Vogue, "Brock Turner Presents "Outercourse" Argument at Appeals Court," 25 July 2018 Harter said this helps prepare them to overcome roadblocks with their projects and how to pivot to a backup plan if necessary. Emma Kate Fittes, Indianapolis Star, "This innovative class in Fishers, Noblesville could start showing up in other schools," 21 May 2018 The company began as a bitcoin mining operation before pivoting to an alternative to email that awards cryptocurrency to prominent people who reply to unsolicited messages. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently tried to value itself at $8 billion," 27 Apr. 2018 The moms had always been able to pivot from the troubles. Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, OregonLive.com, "Devonte Hart family crash: Deceptions, missed signals preceded deaths," 8 Apr. 2018 Rising demand for cold-storage space, as consumer tastes pivot toward fresh foods and online ordering, could drive more consolidation and new investment in the market. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Lineage Logistics Buys Rival Preferred Freezer Services," 25 Feb. 2019 On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Digiday president and editor in chief Brian Morrissey talks about how the digital media and marketing business is pivoting toward live events and away from Facebook growth-hacking. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why building a business that’s dependent on Facebook is ‘crazy’," 16 Aug. 2018 In that situation, which would typically result in grotesque initial understeer, the Tesla somehow pivots around its inside tire and does a tight, not-especially-fast donut with a radius of one Model 3. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Electric Slide: We Drove the Tesla Model 3 in the Snow to See How It Fares as a Rally Car," 21 Feb. 2019 Then one scene later, the film will sharply pivot to comment on the foolishness of the whole game, before just ramping the silliness back up again. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Tag, You’re Not It," 14 June 2018

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.

See More

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



Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pivot

Statistics for pivot

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pivot

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on pivot

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


having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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