au·​to·​pi·​lot | \ ˈȯ-tō-ˌpī-lət How to pronounce autopilot (audio) \

Definition of autopilot

1 : a device for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft also : the automatic control provided by such a device

Examples of autopilot in a Sentence

an airplane equipped with an autopilot The plane was flying on autopilot.

Recent Examples on the Web

Because fatal crashes of autopilot-equipped vehicles are newsworthy. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "Elon Musk’s Silly War With the Media," 24 May 2018 It is accomplished entirely by hand, with the autopilot off, in all weather conditions, sometimes with both airplanes blacked out. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 Unfortunately for him, there's no autopilot exception to drunk-driving laws. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "It took seven miles to pull over a Tesla with a seemingly asleep driver," 1 Dec. 2018 Maybe the next Attorney General can take the career bureaucracy off autopilot. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Endangered Species Habitat Check," 27 Nov. 2018 Musk’s behavior this summer has compounded the deleterious effect of technical problems in late March and early April, including a deadly autopilot crash, a Model S recall and production target misses. Rani Molla, Recode, "Elon Musk’s summer of bad behavior hasn’t affected Tesla’s sales, but it has hurt its reputation," 10 Oct. 2018 Airships lack the predictable routes and powerful autopilot in much of commercial aviation. Andrew Van Dam,, "The blimp industry is changing, right over our noses," 12 June 2018 Vanguard says more retirement savers are putting their plans on autopilot with target date funds, which invest in a mix of stocks and bonds. Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, "Target date funds surge as more workers put 401(k) plans on autopilot," 5 June 2018 After all, breathing is something you are born knowing how to do, and your body typically does it on autopilot. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Here's Why the Way You Breathe During a Workout Matters," 22 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autopilot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of autopilot

1916, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for autopilot

The first known use of autopilot was in 1916

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English Language Learners Definition of autopilot

: a device that steers a ship, aircraft, or spacecraft in place of a person

More from Merriam-Webster on autopilot

Spanish Central: Translation of autopilot Encyclopedia article about autopilot

Comments on autopilot

What made you want to look up autopilot? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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