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[piv-uh t] /ˈpɪv ət/
a pin, point, or short shaft on the end of which something rests and turns, or upon and about which something rotates or oscillates.
the end of a shaft or arbor, resting and turning in a bearing.
any thing or person on which something or someone functions or depends vitally:
He is the pivot of my life.
the person in a line, as of troops on parade, whom the others use as a point about which to wheel or maneuver.
a whirling about on one foot.
Basketball. the act of keeping one foot in place while holding the ball and moving the other foot one step in any direction, so as not to be charged with walking.
  1. an offensive position in the front court, usually played by the center, in which the player stands facing away from the offensive basket and serves as the pivot of the offense by setting up plays through passing, making screens, and taking shots.
  2. Also called pivotman. the player who plays in the pivot position.
Dentistry. (formerly) dowel (def 4).
verb (used without object)
to turn on or as on a pivot.
Basketball. to keep one foot in place while holding the ball and moving the other foot one step in any direction.
verb (used with object)
to mount on, attach by, or provide with a pivot or pivots.
Origin of pivot
1605-15; < French pivot (noun), pivoter (v.), Old French < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pivot
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The trussed-up pair started at once to pivot around on the floor.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • In a word, the children—they are the pivot about which all regulations of marriage should turn.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • But that is the pivot of the whole business, and the important point yet to be proved!

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • Solder is flowed around the pivot to hold it securely in place.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
  • At all events, he made it the pivot of all reasonings with me.

    Sir Jasper Carew Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for pivot


a short shaft or pin supporting something that turns; fulcrum
the end of a shaft or arbor that terminates in a bearing
a person or thing upon which progress, success, etc, depends
the person or position from which a military formation takes its reference, as when altering position
(transitive) to mount on or provide with a pivot or pivots
(intransitive) to turn on or as if on a pivot
Word Origin
C17: from Old French; perhaps related to Old Provençal pua tooth of a comb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pivot

1610s, from French pivot, from Old French pivot "hinge pin, pivot" (12c.), also "penis," of uncertain origin. Figurative sense of "central point" is recorded from 1813.


by 1841, from French pivoter and from pivot (n). Related: Pivoted; pivoting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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