The Meaning of Pivot: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of pivot? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word pivot, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word pivot mean?

According to Your Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary, and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word pivot can be used as either a noun or a verb. As a noun, this rod refers to the end of an axle, short rod,  hinge pin,  point, pin, or axis consisting of a short shaft on the end of something that rests and turns, or upon which something rotates or oscillates. In the military formation, this refers to a soldier or officer who turns in place while the company or troops and others wheel around them. This term is used in roller derby to refer to the phayer who has the responsibility to coordinate their team in a particular jam. In computing, the word pivot refers to an element of a set to be sorted that is chosen as a midpoint, which can then divide the other elements in two groups and deal with them recursively. In basketball, the pivot is an offensive position who stands with their back to the basket to do a maneuver like relay passes, make shots for an offensive basket on the front court, or provide a screen for teammates. This is also a term for a golfer on a driving range, or any other rank that does the act of turning. As a verb, the word pivot means to rotate, spin or whirl. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean pivot. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to the word pivot. These are known as cognates, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning, and look and sound similar across different languages. These are often formed when two words or languages share a common root or language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word pivot is provided by Word Sense. 

  •  Romanian: pivot‎
  •  Portuguese: pivô‎ (masc.)
  •  Hebrew: ציר‎
  •  Finnish: tappi‎
  •  Indonesian: pangsi‎
  •  Italian: perno‎ (masc.)
  •  Latin: cnodax‎ (masc.)
  •  French: pivot‎ (masc.)
  •  Armenian: առանցք‎
  •  Estonian: telg‎
  •  Macedonian: стожер‎
  •  German: Drehpunkt‎ (masc.), Angelpunkt‎ (masc.)
  •  Serbo-Croatian: osovina‎, stožer‎
  •  Malay: pangsi‎
  •  Russian: штырь‎ (masc.), сте́ржень‎ (masc.), центр враще́ния‎ (masc.), ось‎ (fem.)
  •  Swedish: svängtapp‎ (common)

What is the origin of pivot?

According to Etymonline, the word pivot has been used since c17 and comes from the French pivot and Old French pivot meaning hinge pin or penis. This may also be related to the related words Catalan piu, Occitan pivèu, and Old Provençal pua tooth of a comb. 

What are synonyms of pivot?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word pivot. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool because they can help you add variety to your writing and speech and avoid repeating yourself, while growing your vocabulary in the process. This list of synonyms for the word pivot is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  rotate
  •  kingpin
  •  gudgeon
  •  rely
  •  rotation
  •  midpoint
  •  fulcrum
  •  centrum
  •  swiveling
  •  linchpin
  •  midst
  •  hang
  •  pintle
  •  pivots
  •  pivot point
  •  intermediacy
  •  omphalos
  •  swivels
  •  spin
  •  reel
  •  turn
  •  rotating
  •  hotbed
  •  axis
  •  veer
  •  roll
  •  kernel
  •  pin
  •  critical point
  •  depend
  •  centering
  •  core
  •  joint
  •  swivel
  •  focus
  •  swing
  •  focal point
  •  axle
  •  whip
  •  swirl
  •  epicenter
  •  hub
  •  keystone
  •  essence
  •  swung
  •  turn around
  •  centre
  •  nave
  •  hinged
  •  twist
  •  twisting
  •  circumduct
  •  pivotal
  •  pins
  •  cornerstone
  •  swing around
  •  hinge
  •  whirl
  •  make a right
  •  turning point
  •  concentrate
  •  pivoting
  •  circle
  •  central point
  •  be deflected
  •  twirl
  •  rotated
  •  deflect
  •  volte-face
  •  gyrate
  •  spindle
  •  equidistance
  •  centrality
  •  cynosure
  •  arbor
  •  divert
  •  swiveled
  •  heart
  •  revolve around
  •  go round
  •  nucleus
  •  trunnion
  •  pivoted
  •  center of attention
  •  serps
  •  end of a shaft
  •  serves
  •  bobbin
  •  navel
  •  wheel
  •  make a left
  •  mandrel
  •  crux
  •  revolve
  •  shaft
  •  center
  •  articulation
  •  turning
  •  pirouette
  •  pivot man
  •  middle
  •  gist
  •  pith

How can pivot be used in a sentence?

The word pivot can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition and incorporate them into your vocabulary. You can also try making flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge of different definitions. Try using this new word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a couple of examples to get you started.

The New York Times and Washington Post made similar pivots when looking at their business model. They knew they needed to be on social media like Facebook and Twitter more, as well as examine the age and gender of their target market to gain rich results from the group identity shifts. 

The candidate made pivots to the campaign due to the political economy, immigrant status of her supporters, and absentee voting by mail in the upcoming June election. She knew she had to make each of her values a pillar of the campaign in order to win the votes. 

Filmmaker Payne Lindsey decided to pivot the events for the Albright Film Festival from in person to online events. There was a lot of liability involved with in person events due to the pandemic and she was not sure they would make enough money back to justify renting out theaters for the festival. 

The mechanical engineering student studied how the machinery knew exactly where to pivot with its related part to make exact, precise cuts. She enjoyed listening to the creaking sounds of the machine.

Overall, the word pivot means either to turn or spin, or the point on which something can turn or spin. This word can be used literally and figuratively.


  1. Pivot synonyms – 713 Words and Phrases for Pivot | Power Thesaurus 
  2. pivot | Origin and meaning of pivot | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. Pivot Meaning | Best 22 Definitions of Pivot | Your Dictionary 
  4. pivot: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense