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 Forty years ago, Business Roundtable pioneer, Irving Shapiro of DuPont, rejected the ideas of free-market fundamentalist Milton Friedman, who was channeling Friedrich Hayek by way of Adam Smith. Fortune, "Why America’s volunteer spirit could save the election," 19 Oct. 2020 Armed with markers and paint, some of those in attendance dedicated their signs to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist icon who was a pioneer for gender equality under the law. Washington Post, "’Honor her wish’: Signs from the Women’s March in D.C.," 17 Oct. 2020 Joe was a true legend and a pioneer for so many of us after the game. Sporting Green Staff,, "Baseball greats and fans react to the death of Joe Morgan," 12 Oct. 2020 Alexandria Taylor, an attorney from Romulus who is running for 34th District judge, said Ginsburg was a pioneer for women and for all disadvantaged people. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Michiganders called to action, activism in wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death," 22 Sep. 2020 Her death sent shockwaves throughout the nation, with thousands flocking to the Supreme Court to pay homage to the late justice, who was a pioneer for women's rights. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Trump says Supreme Court announcement coming Friday or Saturday," 21 Sep. 2020 Ginsburg was a pioneer for gender equality and the second woman appointed to Supreme Court, after Arizona's Sandra Day O'Connor. Lorraine Longhi, The Arizona Republic, "'A champion for women': Arizona leaders react to passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," 19 Sep. 2020 The village is a simulation of an old-time Utah town, with authentic pioneer and Victorian structures — including Summit County’s first two-story house — moved intact to the site. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Peter Freed, whose family built Lagoon into a Utah playground, dies at 99," 4 Sep. 2020 The colorful mural depicts a hand holding a compass in front of a mountain, which is meant to tell the story of a pioneer finding their way through the mountains and the joy in finding one’s way in the journey of life. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Total Wine & More just opened a 25,000-square-foot store at Bayshore in Glendale," 3 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many have transitioned fully to online learning, a particular difficulty for working parents, and others have attempted to pioneer safe ways to reopen schools for in-person class this fall. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, "American Families Want More School Choice," 30 Sep. 2020 Alksne also joined with Dr. Vicente Iragui to pioneer the insertion of electrodes into the brain to locate abnormalities causing epileptic seizures. Jan Goldsmith, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Someone San Diego Should Know: Dr. John Alksne," 18 Sep. 2020 Google's search website was updated Tuesday for the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month with a new Doodle to honor Puerto Rican civil rights pioneer Felicitas Mendez. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Google marks start of National Hispanic Heritage Month with new Doodle and plans to spotlight Latino businesses," 15 Sep. 2020 Renovating public housing is still probably New York’s best way to pioneer resilient design on a neighborhood scale. David Walter, Washington Post, "As floods, fires and extreme temperatures worsen, these designers are making the case for resilient building," 14 Sep. 2020 Singapore has spent a fortune (officials will not say exactly how much) over the past months to pioneer a slate of COVID-19 responsiveness measures that are perhaps the most rigorous in the world. Audrey Phoon, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Singapore's COVID-19 Response Has Been a Model for Others," 8 Sep. 2020 All of this might be easier if there were an American equivalent to Huawei—a company working to pioneer the infrastructure of the next generation of wireless that also sold products directly to people. Steven Levy, Wired, "Qualcomm’s Founder On Why the US Doesn’t Have Its Own Huawei," 4 Sep. 2020 In the early days, Sivers helped pioneer e-commerce for many musicians. Jd Shadel | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "CD Baby’s creative culture proves to be pandemic-proof: Top Workplaces 2020," 23 Aug. 2020 There is an urgent need to pioneer better ways of tracking them because the marine mammals face a wide range of threats, including ship strikes, habitat degradation, and pollution. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Can Scientists Protect North Atlantic Right Whales by Counting Them From Space?," 6 Jan. 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

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pioneer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 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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