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 Nuance is a pioneer and a leading provider of conversational AI and cloud based ambient clinical intelligence for healthcare providers. Joe Cornell, Forbes, "Microsoft Announces Acquisition Of Nuance; Targets Completion In 2021," 20 Apr. 2021 On Saturday, the search engine featured Laura Maria Catarina Bassi, an Italian physicist and professor who was a pioneer for women in science. Rachel Trent, CNN, "Google Doodle celebrates Laura Bassi, one of the first European women to earn a PhD," 17 Apr. 2021 McMillen was the force behind the trees being planted, an homage to a woman named Flossie Beadle, a Lakeside pioneer born in 1902 who fought unsuccessfully to save cork elm trees along that same stretch of Woodside Avenue in the 1950s. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Lakeside school district, county team up with locals to save trees," 9 Apr. 2021 New Zealand was the first country in the world to give voting rights to women and has been a pioneer on issues in connection with women’s rights. Washington Post, "World Digest: March 25, 2021," 25 Mar. 2021 But without her mother’s influence, Smith might not be a baseball pioneer right now, a groundbreaker just months after Kim Ng was named general manager of the Miami Marlins, becoming the first woman in Major League Baseball to hold the title. New York Times, "The First Black Woman to Coach in Pro Baseball Thanks Her Mom for the Job," 3 Mar. 2021 Deerfield Beach has earned a reputation as one of the top surfing spots in South Florida, and Kirk Cottrell was a pioneer who was instrumental in promoting the surfing culture. Emmett Hall,, "Deerfield Beach surfing pioneer honored with beach pavilion," 25 Feb. 2021 But before there was a Donald Trump, there was a Republican pioneer who paved the way for the Trump brand of destructive politics. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Liberal Media Scream: New high in CNN bias, blames GOP for ‘divided America’," 1 Feb. 2021 Hanson is a pioneer at Northern Oaks, which opened in 2015 and is competing in UIL sports for the first time this season. David Hinojosa, San Antonio Express-News, "Northern Oaks junior John Hanson makes big impression," 22 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These brands not only continue to pioneer with innovative technologies such as AR but have been able to transform these campaigns into highly engaging community engagement points. Kyle Wong, Forbes, "Building Community With Augmented Reality And Emerging Technology," 19 Mar. 2021 Though Black travelers and industry figures are stepping up to advocate for themselves and pioneer much of the progress that has been made, ultimately the rest of the travel industry must also get involved to enact long-lasting change. Jessica Poitevien, Condé Nast Traveler, "Have the Travel Industry's Inclusivity Efforts Made a Difference?," 22 Feb. 2021 Coleman combined hands-on experience with wide reading to pioneer the use of greenhouses for four-season harvests—hence the farm's name—and to apply organic methods at a commercial scale. Kevin West, Travel + Leisure, "Experience True Farm-to-Table Living on a Culinary Road Trip Through Coastal Maine," 12 Apr. 2021 This lost film found in 1970 features dance numbers, pioneer special effects, animation, the Rhythm Boys with Bing Crosby. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week ‘Pulp Fiction’ on BBC America and IFC," 9 Apr. 2021 The album, which is 32 today, helped to pioneer gangster rap and horrorcore in hip-hop. Shelby Stewart, Chron, "The Ghetto Boys' 'Grip It! On That Other Level' turns 32 today," 12 Mar. 2021 Together, these three cofounders unite to pioneer a new era of operational analytics through Hightouch. Frederick Daso, Forbes, "Hightouch Ushers In The Era Of Operational Analytics," 4 Mar. 2021 The program will be overseen by Jigar Shah, a longtime clean-energy entrepreneur who helped pioneer solar power in the U.S. Matthew Daly, Star Tribune, "AP Interview: DOE reviving loan program, Granholm says," 4 Mar. 2021 Everybody is naturally skeptical of battery swap, knowing the story of how Better Place, which tried to pioneer in Israel and the Netherlands, cratered quickly at a huge loss to investors. Brad Templeton, Forbes, "“Ample” Launches New Battery Swap For EVs That Could Avoid The Failures Of Previous Ventures," 3 Mar. 2021

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pioneer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for pioneer



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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