Is there a noun for something important, something that plays a big role in a given situation? The term game changer doesn't fit the description in my opinion (because it implies the important thing being something introduced recently), and the term biggie seems kind of rare and informal.

  • It depends on the situation and context as well. If you could give an example, we could try to find the best word also. Even "everything" gives this meaning. Ex: "She is everything to me."
    – 0..
    Mar 10 '14 at 23:29

I would go with the crux, linchpin, or keystone, depending on the situation/usage.

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