pilot

1 of 3

noun

pi·​lot ˈpī-lət How to pronounce pilot (audio)
1
a
: one employed to steer a ship : helmsman
b
: a person who is qualified and usually licensed to conduct a ship into and out of a port or in specified waters
c
: a person who flies or is qualified to fly an aircraft or spacecraft
2
3
4
: a piece that guides a tool or machine part
5
: a television show produced and filmed or taped as a sample of a proposed series
6
pilotless adjective

pilot

2 of 3

verb

piloted; piloting; pilots

transitive verb

1
: to act as a guide to : lead or conduct over a usually difficult course
2
a
: to set and conn the course of
pilot a ship
b
: to act as pilot of
pilot a plane

pilot

3 of 3

adjective

: serving as a guiding or tracing device, an activating or auxiliary unit, or a trial apparatus or operation
a pilot study
Choose the Right Synonym for pilot

guide, lead, steer, pilot, engineer mean to direct in a course or show the way to be followed.

guide implies intimate knowledge of the way and of all its difficulties and dangers.

guided the scouts through the cave

lead implies showing the way and often keeping those that follow under control and in order.

led his team to victory

steer implies an ability to keep to a course and stresses the capacity of maneuvering correctly.

steered the ship through a narrow channel

pilot suggests guidance over a dangerous or complicated course.

piloted the bill through the Senate

engineer implies finding ways to avoid or overcome difficulties in achieving an end or carrying out a plan.

engineered his son's election to the governorship

Examples of pilot in a Sentence

Noun the airline is seeking experienced pilots to fly the new airplane Verb He is learning how to pilot a helicopter. He skillfully piloted the ship into port during the storm. Adjective The group conducted a pilot program. a new pilot program to train inner-city residents for jobs in the tech sector
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Participants in the pilot program must reside or work in West Oakland and earn less than the area’s median income: $103,500. Terry Castleman, Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2024 Recipients of the pilot program were chosen in 2022 and had to be between the ages 18 to 24 and earn an income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level — about $69,000 for a three-person household — to qualify. Dana Munro, Baltimore Sun, 12 July 2024
Verb
Joe Engle, who had the distinction of being the only astronaut to pilot an X-15 aircraft and a space shuttle, died in Houston on Wednesday, July 10. David Chiu, Peoplemag, 13 July 2024 Fox was married to pilot Peter Artemiev from 2018 to 2020. Matt Lavietes, NBC News, 9 July 2024
Adjective
The pilot episode of Hazbin Hotel was released in 2019 on YouTube, but the first season premiered on Jan. 18 on Amazon Prime. Xander Zellner, Billboard, 31 Jan. 2024 Both Macdonald and Hsu were eyed for the pilot role that went to Polanco, but they were cast in later episodes. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 June 2023 See all Example Sentences for pilot 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pilot.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle French pilote, from Italian pilota, alteration of pedota, from Middle Greek *pēdōtēs, from Greek pēda steering oars, plural of pēdon oar; probably akin to Greek pod-, pous foot — more at foot

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1915, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pilot was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near pilot

Cite this Entry

“Pilot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pilot. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

pilot

1 of 3 noun
pi·​lot ˈpī-lət How to pronounce pilot (audio)
1
a
: a person who steers a ship
b
: a person qualified to guide a ship into and out of a port or in specified waters
2
: someone who provides guidance and direction : leader
3
: one who flies or is qualified to fly an aircraft or spacecraft
4
pilotless adjective

pilot

2 of 3 verb
: to act as pilot of : guide

pilot

3 of 3 adjective
: serving as a guiding or tracing device, as an activating or auxiliary unit, or to test a new invention or idea
a pilot study

More from Merriam-Webster on pilot

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