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[piv-uh-tl] /ˈpɪv ə tl/
of, relating to, or serving as a pivot.
of vital or critical importance:
a pivotal event.
Origin of pivotal
First recorded in 1835-45; pivot + -al1
Related forms
pivotally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pivotal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Noon at the ship is the pivotal point of the day's work at sea.

    Lectures in Navigation Ernest Gallaudet Draper
  • Let us picture this pivotal scene of his life and of American history.

    True to His Home Hezekiah Butterworth
  • It was one of the pivotal points of the war, and is of about medium height.

  • But I could not discover that the massacre had any influence on the voters in the pivotal states.

    Historical Essays James Ford Rhodes
  • There were great builders after, as before, the pivotal year 1400.

    How to judge architecture Russell Sturgis
British Dictionary definitions for pivotal


of, involving, or acting as a pivot
of crucial importance
Derived Forms
pivotally, adverb
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 pivotal

1844, in figurative sense, from pivot (n.) + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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