Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A locking pin inserted in the end of a shaft, as in an axle, to prevent a wheel from slipping off.
  • n. A central cohesive element: Reduced spending is the linchpin of their economic program.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a pin inserted through holes at the end of an axle, so as to secure a wheel
  • n. a central cohesive source of stability and security; a person or thing that is critical to a system or organisation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A pin used to prevent the wheel of a vehicle from sliding off the axletree.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A pin inserted in the spindle of the axle of a vehicle to prevent the wheel from slipping off. Also axle-pin.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. pin inserted through an axletree to hold a wheel on
  • n. a central cohesive source of support and stability

Etymologies

Middle English linspin : lins, linchpin (from Old English lynis) + pin, pin (from Old English pinn; see pin).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English lynspin, compound of lins 'axletree' and pin, from Old English lynis 'linchpin', from Proto-Germanic *luniso (compare German Lünse), from Proto-Indo-European (compare Welsh olwyn 'wheel', Armenian ołn 'shoulder', Sanskrit āṇís). Figurative use attested from the mid-20th century. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Times have now changed, Schumer said, and passing a bill is possible by separating illegal from legal immigrants with what he calls the linchpin: a biometric Social Security card that includes digital records of personal characteristics.

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  • More to the point, it would have to survive without McShane as Silas, continue to function dramatically even after the Saul counterpart dies and its linchpin is gone — which seems, at the moment, inconceivable.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • Outlook: The reigning Class AA State Federation champions may run three guards but their linchpin is 6-0 Mike Coburn (16.5 ppg, 6 apg).

    Super 25 boys basketball rankings

  • Maintaining the impossibly high standards set by previous releases from the Bug and soon to be legendary Burial, label linchpin Kode 9 reverts to the format reserved for his own alchemical productions.

    AvaxHome RSS:

  • Their alleged aim is to provoke confrontations to split the people and the army, which the council calls the linchpin of the nation's safety and security.

    Egyptian Protesters Plan 'Second Revolution' Rally

  • McChrystal's departure played out against a faltering campaign in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, rising U.S. and NATO casualties on the battlefield, and delays in a Kandahar offensive that has been described as the linchpin to the war effort.

    Gen. McChrystal is dismissed as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan

  • Hudson ruled that the so-called linchpin of the law -- the requirement that most Americans obtain insurance -- exceeds the authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause.

    Dr. Quentin Young: A Judge's Assist to Single Payer?

  • The linchpin was their ability to personify and appeal to a great yearning in the souls of the American people in a time of crisis and use that yearning to affect change.

    Obama Gets More Super-Delegates Over The Weekend

  • Of course, the US wouldn't be accused of double-speak if it hadn't made a Dadaist term the linchpin of its anti-terrorist programme.

    Ali Eteraz: US Supports Terrorists That are Also Not Terrorists

  • "We are hoping to use his experience," said Mr. Terbil, who some called the linchpin of the revolt.

    NYT > Home Page

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