1. A short rod or shaft on which a related part rotates or swings.
2. A person or thing on which something depends; the central or crucial factor: “The pivot of the whole affair was the stupidity of some admiral” (Joseph Conrad).
3. The act of turning on a pivot.
4. A dramatic change in policy, position, or strategy: “President Obama's decision to cancel a planned week-long trip to Asia ... is raising questions across Washington about the administration's vaunted pivot to Asia” (Howard LaFranchi).
a. A person around which a formation of marching people turns.
b. Sports A player who plays at the center of the offense.
a. A position taken by an offensive player usually facing away from the basket near the foul line to relay passes, attempt a shot, or set screens.
b. The stationary foot around which the ball handler is allowed to pivot without dribbling.
v. piv·ot·ed, piv·ot·ing, piv·ots
1. To mount on, attach by, or provide with a pivot or pivots.
2. To cause to rotate, revolve, or turn: pivoted the telescope toward the island.
1. To turn on a pivot.
2. To depend or be centered: “The plot ... lacks direction, pivoting on Hamlet's incertitude” (G. Wilson Knight).
3. To make a dramatic change in policy, position, or strategy: “If you start pivoting, you're not being honest with people” (Donald Trump).
[French, from Old French ; akin to perhaps akin to Catalan piu, pivot, perhaps from piu, chirp (from the creaking sounds made by something turning on a pivot ).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.