One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A word crucial to the meaning or structure of a sentence, paragraph, etc.
2The word on which a pivot-pun turns.
3Linguistics. Any of a set of words used at an early stage of a child's acquisition of language as central items to which other words are attached.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Times. From pivot + word.
pivot word/ˈpɪvət ˌwəːd/
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