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 city's name eventually changed to honor its thriving railroad pioneer, Marvin Kent. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Kent restaurant The Battleground embraces social justice on its plates, in its glasses," 26 May 2020 The myriad types found at Mil are due in part to Peru’s latest potato pioneer, Manuel Choqque Bravo. Rebecca Wolff, National Geographic, "Get a taste of Peru’s hot potatoes," 14 May 2020 Before his headlining appearance at the 1993 City Stages festival in Birmingham, the flamboyant rock 'n' roll pioneer talked to reporter Shawn Ryan of The Birmingham News, discussing his life and career. Mary Colurso |, al, "Our interview with Little Richard for 1993 City Stages," 9 May 2020 Afrobeats, a pulsating West African style of music, was popularized by its pioneer, the late musician and political activist Kuti in the 1960s. Robert Iddiols, CNN, "Nigerian drummer and Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen dies at 79," 1 May 2020 But the rules of Oregon wine had been set by that small cadre of Willamette Valley pioneers, and as the industry grew, those rules started to feel outdated. Esther Mobley,, "How California’s appetite for Oregon’s grapes fueled a wine war," 22 Apr. 2020 The prison farm stood in stark contrast to the second significant use of the land, a day camp founded in 1952 by local Girl Scouts pioneer, Marjory Bailey. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "There’s a golf course there now, but Anchorage prisoners used to farm at Russian Jack Springs Park," 12 Apr. 2020 EOS GmbH of Germany, a 3-D printing pioneer, on Tuesday launched an industrywide website, 3DAgainstCorona,... Asa Fitch, WSJ, "3-D Companies Tackle Coronavirus Supply Shortages," 2 Apr. 2020 Damaged Senses Rewire Themselves The vision pioneers David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel, who discovered image processing in the visual cortex, repeated these experiments in animals and discovered the neural basis of the lazy eye. Quanta Magazine, "The Brain Reshapes Our Malleable Senses to Fit the World," 24 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The program Loy uses was pioneered by the US military as part of an effort to improve the performance of service dogs. Popular Science, "‘Super puppies’ keep calm and carry on in the most stressful situations," 17 Apr. 2020 Spitzer has pioneered the study of hot Jupiters—gas giant exoplanets that orbit close to their stars—and in 2009, found a hidden ring around Saturn. Lily Katzman, Smithsonian Magazine, "Spitzer’s 16 Years of Scanning the Cosmos," 31 Jan. 2020 In another scientific breakthrough, British neuroscientist Adrian Owen and his colleagues have pioneered the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in patients who appear to be in persistent vegetative states. Jacob M. Appel, STAT, "A ‘radical proposition’: A health care veteran tries to upend the system and bring drug prices down," 9 Jan. 2020 Her editing, which features close-up zooms, abrupt intercuts of her outtakes, liberal sound effects, and behind-the-scenes shots of her editing in her bed, has pioneered a new style, spawning a whole subgenre of YouTube mimicry. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "The Emma Chamberlain Effect," 26 Aug. 2019 Having made his name in the value-investing discipline pioneered by Warren Buffett, Herro isn’t shy about pressuring C-suite executives. Saijel Kishan,, "Climate Skeptic Asset Managers Face Pressure to Reveal Donations," 29 Apr. 2020 Remember the two-seat convertible SUV segment pioneered by the Suzuki X90? Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, "2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic Shows Real Growth," 15 Apr. 2020 The song’s funky blues and enigmatic lyrics epitomized the atmospheric jazz-rock sound pioneered by the band’s Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker. Marc Myers, WSJ, "‘Peg, It Will Come Back to You’: Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen on the 1977 Hit," 7 Apr. 2020 But children’s music as a genre didn’t emerge until the 1970s, pioneered by a handful of Canadian baby boomers: Raffi, Fred Penner, and the trio Sharon, Lois & Bram. Patrick Flanary, Quartz, "Children’s music never broke through in China, but coronavirus may change that," 31 Mar. 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

4 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pioneer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 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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