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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English lynspin, compound of lins (axletree) and pin, from Old English lynis (lynchpin), from Proto-Germanic *lunaz – compare German Lünse and Dutch luns – from Proto-Indo-European. Possible further cognates are Welsh olwyn (wheel), Old Armenian ողն (ołn, back; spine, backbone) and Sanskrit आणि (āṇí, lynchpin). Figurative use attested from the mid-20th century.


  • IPA(key): /ˈlɪnt͡ʃˌpɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪntʃpɪn


linchpin (plural linchpins)

  1. A pin inserted through holes at the end of an axle or shaft, so as to secure a wheel or shaft-mounted device.
    Synonym: axlepin
    • 1376–7, Compotus Roll Hyde Manor (In the manuscript deeds of Westminster Abbey)
      In ij camellis ferri vocatis lynspins emptis pro carectis iiijd.
    • 1864 June, Baily's Magazine of Sports & Pastimes, volume 8, page 110:
      Every design that villany could suggest was had recourse to in the hopes of nobbling Wild Dayrell; but never being left for an hour by either his trainer or jockey, he escaped the intended “coopering,” even when the lynchpins of the wheels of his van had been tampered with.
  2. (figuratively) A central cohesive source of stability and security; a person or thing that is critical to a system or organisation.
    • 1958, The Eastern Economist:
      What is difficult to appreciate, however, is the discrepancy between his statement to the 'Manchester Guardian' correspondent and his known abhorance for party politics, which is the lynchpin of modern democracy.
    • 2013, Dvaid Sines, Community and Public Health Nursing, page 2006:
      Community nurses have been described as the lynchpins of palliative care in the community.



linchpin (third-person singular simple present linchpins, present participle linchpinning, simple past and past participle linchpinned)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To adopt as, or serve as, a central cohesive source of stability and security.
    • 2013, Christine Chism, Alliterative Revivals, page 238:
      The poems turn fear of individual death into an audit of the costs of an aristocratic status quo which is linchpinned by a monarchy indulging in paradigms of social redress that have become cosmetic, opportunities for self-display rather than genuine justice.