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kingpin

[king-pin] /ˈkɪŋˌpɪn/
noun
1.
Bowling.
  1. headpin.
  2. the pin at the center; the number five pin.
2.
Informal. the person of chief importance in a corporation, movement, undertaking, etc.
3.
Informal. the chief element of any system, plan, or the like.
4.
a kingbolt.
5.
either of the pins that are a part of the mechanism for turning the front wheels in some automotive steering systems.
Origin
1795-1805
1795-1805; king + pin
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for king-pin

kingpin

/ˈkɪŋˌpɪn/
noun
1.
the most important person in an organization
2.
the crucial or most important feature of a theory, argument, etc
3.
Also called (Brit) swivel pin. a pivot pin that provides a steering joint in a motor vehicle by securing the stub axle to the axle beam
4.
(tenpin bowling) the front pin in the triangular arrangement of the ten pins
5.
(in ninepins) the central pin in the diamond pattern of the nine pins
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for king-pin

kingpin

n.

also king-pin, 1801 as the name of the large pin in the game of kayles (similar to bowls except a club or stick was thrown instead of a ball; cf. "Games, Gaming and Gamesters' Laws," Frederick Brandt, London, 1871), from king with a sense of "chief" + pin (n.). The modern use is mainly figurative and is perhaps from the word's use as another name for the king-bolt (itself from 1825) in a machinery, though the figurative use is attested earlier (1867) than the literal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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9
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