pi·​o·​neer | \ ˌpī-ə-ˈnir How to pronounce pioneer (audio) \

Definition of pioneer

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a member of a military unit usually of construction engineers
2a : a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development
b : one of the first to settle in a territory
3 : a plant or animal capable of establishing itself in a bare, barren, or open area and initiating an ecological cycle


pioneered; pioneering; pioneers

Definition of pioneer (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to act as a pioneer pioneered in the development of airplanes

transitive verb

1 : to open or prepare for others to follow also : settle
2 : to originate or take part in the development of



Definition of pioneer (Entry 3 of 3)

2 : relating to or being a pioneer especially : of, relating to, or characteristic of early settlers or their time

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Examples of pioneer in a Sentence

Noun the pioneers who settled in the American West in the 19th century the hardships that the pioneers endured while taming the wilderness Verb a painter who pioneered a new art form The new method of cancer treatment was pioneered by an international team of researchers. He helped pioneer a new route to the West. He pioneered in the development of airplanes. Adjective the nation's pioneer institution for the education of African-Americans
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The latest version of the series, a pioneer in reality crime and paranormal programming, includes familiar features from the original, such as the scary musical theme. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "'Unsolved Mysteries' revival leaps to top of Netflix rankings, case tips already coming in," 4 July 2020 The would-be pioneer of reopening has become the first governor to order a reclosing. The Economist, "Lexington It’s messing with Texas," 4 July 2020 Chesapeake Energy Corp filed for bankruptcy on June 28, ending the pioneer’s run leading the US shale oil and gas industry. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "After a decade of losses for US shale oil, 2020 may be a final reckoning," 2 July 2020 The foxy songsmith toured and recorded with the shock rock pioneer from around 1985 to 1987. Matt Wake |, al, "20 music stars who got their start as sidemen/sidewomen," 25 June 2020 After years of expansion, in 1872 H&TC took the small pioneer community and formally established Allen. Alyssa Fernandez, Dallas News, "Allen, Texas: How the city earned its title as one of the best suburbs in the country," 24 June 2020 Yet Hardin managed to become a policing pioneer anyway. oregonlive, "Portland’s first black police officer didn’t last long, but he refused to give up; 20 years later he became heralded sheriff’s deputy," 18 June 2020 The electric-car pioneer has faced criticism from local citizens concerned about deforestation and water usage related to the plant’s construction. Brian Parkin,, "Tesla Revises Germany Plan to Have Car Plant Cranking in a Year," 4 June 2020 That exchange summed up some of the challenges facing a pioneer in the sport of motor racing decades before Danica Patrick climbed into a race car. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit-born Vicki Wood, who set speed record on Daytona sand, dies at 101," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation. Nick Givas, Fox News, "NASA renaming headquarters for 'Hidden Figures' scientist Mary Jackson," 25 June 2020 The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "NASA to name DC headquarters after Mary Jackson, organization's first black female engineer," 24 June 2020 The company controls more than half of China’s $33bn gaming market, and has helped pioneer gaming on smartphones, where China leads the world. The Economist, "Schumpeter Tencent has used stealth to become a gaming superpower," 13 June 2020 The Cybertruck presents a golden opportunity to pioneer technologies that eliminate residual emissions from automotive manufacturing. Levi Tillemann, Wired, "Tesla’s Cybertruck Could Be Ripped, Mean, and Super Green," 4 June 2020 But Trump has pioneered the art of undermining the media as an institution. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Democrats demand their own slice of anti-media action," 27 May 2020 The Goldpanners pioneered the idea of baseball in Alaska with college players, forming in 1960 as a barnstorming team. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Baseball League cancels 2020 season, but Pilots and Miners may still play," 23 May 2020 Jose Antonio pioneered the plasmapheresis technique in 1950. Emma Vickers,, "Family Builds $3.8 Billion Fortune, One Pint of Blood at a Time," 13 May 2020 Grubhub, founded in 2004, pioneered a model of collecting the menus and information for tens of thousands of restaurants and making them available to diners through its website and apps. Mike Isaac, New York Times, "Uber Said to Be in Talks to Acquire Grubhub," 12 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pioneer.' 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 pioneer


1523, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1780, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pioneer


Middle French pionier, from Old French peonier foot soldier, from peon foot soldier, from Medieval Latin pedon-, pedo — more at pawn

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Time Traveler for pioneer

Time Traveler

The first known use of pioneer was in 1523

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Statistics for pioneer

Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pioneer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for pioneer


How to pronounce pioneer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pioneer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who helps create or develop new ideas, methods, etc.
: someone who is one of the first people to move to and live in a new area



English Language Learners Definition of pioneer (Entry 2 of 2)

: to help create or develop (new ideas, methods, etc.) : to be a pioneer in the development of (something)


pi·​o·​neer | \ ˌpī-ə-ˈnir How to pronounce pioneer (audio) \

Kids Definition of pioneer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who is one of the first to settle in an area
2 : a person who begins or helps develop something new and prepares the way for others to follow They were pioneers in the field of medicine.


pioneered; pioneering

Kids Definition of pioneer (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to explore or open up ways or regions for others to follow
2 : to begin something new or take part in the early development of something They pioneered new scientific techniques.

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