pilot

noun
pi·​lot | \ ˈpī-lət How to pronounce pilot (audio) \

Definition of pilot

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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 : guide, leader
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

pilot

verb
piloted; piloting; pilots

Definition of pilot (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

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

pilot

adjective

Definition of pilot (Entry 3 of 3)

: serving as a guiding or tracing device, an activating or auxiliary unit, or a trial apparatus or operation a pilot study

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pilot

Noun

pilotless \ ˈpī-​lət-​ləs How to pronounce pilotless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for pilot

Synonyms: Noun

airman, aviator, birdman, flier (also flyer)

Synonyms: Verb

coach, counsel, guide, lead, mentor, shepherd, show, tutor

Synonyms: Adjective

developmental, experimental, trial

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for pilot

Verb

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Such outcomes raise a question: Why do addicts have to have a medical or pilot’s license to receive such high-quality care? Kayla Webley Adler, Marie Claire, "I Was One Of The Top Doctors In My Field. I Was Also An Opioid Addict.," 25 Feb. 2019 One helicopter pilot dies; the other survives but is nearly catatonic. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Arctic is a pure distillation of the man vs. nature genre," 1 Feb. 2019 Last week LimeBike expressed its displeasure with the still-restrictive rules by launching an online petition urging the city to raise the number of wheel-lock bikes allowed and expand the pilot area. John Greenfield, Chicago Reader, "So long Ofo: Bike-share company is leaving Chicago because of lock requirements," 9 July 2018 Virgin Galactic, on its fifth supersonic, rocket- powered test flight, successfully sent passenger Beth Moses, the company's Chief Astronaut Instructor, to the edge of space, the first non-pilot to ever fly on a commercial aircraft. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Virgin Galactic Reaches the Edge of Space—This Time With a Passenger in Tow," 22 Feb. 2019 Now the staffer is helping the ministry apply the results of the pilot and prepare to scale up the program more widely. Meagan Neal, Vox, "It’s hard to design good policies. This simple idea can help governments do it.," 21 Dec. 2018 While that pilot isn’t any subscription streaming service, iTunes has it for $1.99. Noel Murray, The Verge, "This weekend, stream a different version of Aquaman from home," 21 Dec. 2018 The pilot alone was a major triumph for television in the early '00s. Seventeen, "The 20 Greatest TV Teen Dramas of All Time," 4 Dec. 2018 Their last baby was born shortly after the pilot aired, meaning it's been a busy (but exciting) year for the family. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Everything You Need to Know About David and Lauren Liess's New DIY Network Show," 6 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As she was buried at a cemetery near Maynardville, Tenn., Feb. 2, four Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet jets—all piloted by women—flew over to honor her. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Rosemary Mariner, Spurned by Airline Executive, Led Way for Female Pilots in U.S. Navy," 15 Feb. 2019 Bruno was later taken to a hospital, not only thanks to the piloting prowess of the French Mountain Police, but his skiing buddy's improbable cell service. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Helicopter Pulls Off Improbable Rescue Mission in the French Alps," 10 Jan. 2019 Bob Barger, who piloted Navy planes during the war, received his associate’s degree from the University of Toledo in Ohio to a standing ovation, according to The Associated Press. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "World War II veteran, 96, receives college degree more than 60 years after his last class, report says," 2 Oct. 2018 George also has a thing for helicopters—perhaps in part because his father once piloted them professionally. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Prince George Is Learning About Outer Space in School, Kate Middleton Reveals," 15 Jan. 2019 According to Wired, both Lyft and Uber have been piloting versions of a subscription service since last year. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "Uber and Lyft unveiled new subscription plans. But are they really worth the money?," 31 Oct. 2018 During the war, the X-10 laboratory piloted the process of plutonium production that was scaled up at Hanford to produce the fuel for the Nagasaki bomb. Emily Strasser, Curbed, "A secret city opens up," 8 Aug. 2018 General Assembly recently piloted an ISA option with thirteen students, some of whom are still job-hunting. Lindsay Gellman, The Atlantic, "Code Now. Pay Tuition Later.," 30 June 2018 The 22-year-old piloted his Bonnies (26-8) to a 13-game winning streak to end the regular season. Katherine Fominykh, baltimoresun.com, "Jaylen Adams (Mount Saint Joseph) might be just days away from his NBA dream," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In the Swedish city of Luleå, steelmaker SSAB AB, iron-ore miner Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB and power-generator Vattenfall AB are jointly building a pilot steel factory that will use hydrogen in place of coking coal. Rhiannon Hoyle, WSJ, "Miners Test Greener Ways to Dig," 16 July 2018 Within the pilot study area, any current on-street time restriction would become a flat three-hour limit. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "Oak Park officials debate parking pilot program; more discussions set in June," 21 May 2018 Chukoskie met a lot of young adults like Baramki-Azar during the pilot study. Sarah Deweerdt, Science | AAAS, "Can science-based video games help kids with autism?," 22 June 2018 Sacramento is one of seven North American cities selected to participate in a pilot program offering incentives to Uber drivers who use electric vehicles, the ride-sharing company announced Tuesday. Michael Mcgough, sacbee, "Uber teams up with SMUD to offer new cash incentives. There's just one condition," 19 June 2018 But he was assured by the terms of the contract; NuSI would have no control over the pilot study’s design, operation, or reporting. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "The Collapse of a $40 Million Nutrition Science Crusade," 18 June 2018 In one of the trials -- a pilot study -- the patients who received the diabetes drug did not get any worse for two years while the control group, who received a standard treatment for Parkinson's, deteriorated significantly. Christian Holscher, CNN, "New approach to Alzheimer's fight: Diabetes drugs," 15 June 2018 Another pilot prosecution project was implemented in the El Paso area at the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year. Mark Dent, Anchorage Daily News, "Sessions vows to prosecute all illegal border crossers and separate children from their parents," 8 May 2018 Commission members also voted to direct staff to develop, monitor and enforce guest, night passes and second car passes within the pilot study area as a way to ensure local residents have parking priority. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "'There’s got to be measurable goals': Oak Park transportation commission seeks task force to monitor parking pilot," 1 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of pilot

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

History and Etymology for pilot

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pilot

Statistics for pilot

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pilot

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pilot

pilot

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pilot

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a person who flies an airplane, helicopter, etc.
: a person who steers or guides a ship into and out of a port or in dangerous waters
: a single television show that is made as a test to see if a television series based on the show would be popular and successful

pilot

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pilot (Entry 2 of 3)

: to fly (an airplane, spacecraft, etc.)
: to steer or guide (a ship)

pilot

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pilot (Entry 3 of 3)

: done as a test to see if a larger program, study, etc., should be done

pilot

noun
pi·​lot | \ ˈpī-lət How to pronounce pilot (audio) \

Kids Definition of pilot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who flies an aircraft
2 : a person who steers a ship
3 : a person especially qualified to guide ships into and out of a port or in dangerous waters

pilot

verb
piloted; piloting

Kids Definition of pilot (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to fly (an airplane)
2 : to steer or guide (a boat)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pilot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pilot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pilot

Spanish Central: Translation of pilot

Nglish: Translation of pilot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pilot for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pilot

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!