Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 8, 2021 is:

pivot • PIV-ut  • noun

1 : a shaft or pin on which something turns

2 a : a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect

b : a key player or position; specifically : an offensive position of a basketball player standing usually with back to the basket to relay passes, shoot, or provide a screen for teammates

3 : the action of pivoting; especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor


“In my first product business, I didn’t know when to pivot and lost everything as a result. When your output (money) exceeds your input, or you can’t afford to pay yourself, it’s time to pivot…. The pivot should be a part of your strategic plan.” — India Gary-Martin, quoted in Forbes, 24 Feb. 2021

“Prior to the pandemic large in-person open houses, property tours with the whole family and quite literally holding a client’s hand through the process of buying and selling a home was the norm. Throughout 2020 Realtors saw these practices become less and less possible. A pivot was required: a pivot to digital. The large open houses with (hopefully) many dozens of visitors became a virtual experience, now reaching as many people as the internet has to offer.” — Brendan Bailey,, 15 Feb. 2021

Did you know?

Pivot is a French borrowing that slowly evolved grammatically in the English language. It began as a noun in the 14th century designating a shaft or pin on which something turns (“The chair turns on a pivot”). Later it was applied to any central person or thing around which action revolves. The noun then came to denote the action of turning about, oscillating, or balancing on or as if on a point (“the pivot of the golfer’s body”; “a pivot in advertising strategy”). Adjectival use followed, always functioning as a synonym of the derivative pivotal describing things that are the pivot, that are vitally important or critical (“a pivot decision”). The word evolved yet again in the 19th century to become a verb indicating the act of turning, literally and figuratively, about a point (“The player pivoted and passed the ball”; “The plot pivots on revenge”). In wider extended use, it can imply a change of direction (“The company pivoted towards marketing remote learning tools and resources”).

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