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piv·ot (pĭvət)
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n.
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).
5.
a. A person around which a formation of marching people turns.
b. Sports A player who plays at the center of the offense.
6. Basketball
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
v. tr.
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.
v. intr.
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 ).]

pivot·a·ble adj.

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:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    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.

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