Trend Watch

'I Don't Want to Pivot,' Says Trump

The word is used figuratively to indicate a shift in positions or tactics

Pivot (“to turn on or as if on a pivot“) spiked in lookups on August 16th, after Donald Trump announced that this was a thing which he had no plans of doing.

“I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, well you’re going to pivot.’ I don’t want to pivot,” Trump said in a Tuesday interview with Wisconsin television station WKBT. “I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
—Igor Bobic, The Huffington Post, 16 Aug., 2016

Although pivot has enjoyed a long life in English as a noun—it's been around since the 14th century—it has but recently (using recently rather relatively) come to be used as a verb. The earliest known use in this part of speech is from the 18th century, when the word began to be used by dentists in descriptions of the things that they would do to one’s teeth.

Mr. Spence, having now returned to Philadelphia, begs leave to inform the public that he continues to perform every operation relating to the TEETH, such as cleaning, pivoting, extracting, &c. &c. in the best manner, and according to the latest discoveries.
Pennsylvania Journal, 7 Jan., 1786

Pivot is often encountered these days in highly figurative use, indicating that a person is shifting positions or tactics.

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