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

  • n. Variant of linchpin.

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 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


From Middle English lynspin, from Old English lynis (a pin securing a wheel to an axle). Figurative use attested from the mid 20th Century. (Wiktionary)



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  • Baby wants a new spin
    Baby wants a broken heart
    Hear you found the lynchpin
    To keep it all from falling apart.

    (All arise!, by The Decemberists)

    January 19, 2011

  • The OED added this spelling only in 1997 (with first citation from 1988), yet on Google it's almost equally common as 'linchpin' on UK sites. (Worldwide it's lagging at under 3:1.) However, Google Books shows examples in the early nineteenth century, e.g. lynch pin in Catherine Hutton, Oakwood Hall, 1819.

    July 31, 2008

  • What a solid, reliable little word!

    December 10, 2007