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 investment firm was founded by Bill Hwang, a former Tiger Asia trader and protégé of hedge fund pioneer Julian Robertson. Jill Disis, CNN, "Hedge fund failure slams Credit Suisse, Nomura and other banks," 29 Mar. 2021 It’s one of the best pioneer-period buildings left. The Salt Lake Tribune, "In wake of temple mural removals, question arises: How is the LDS Church doing in preserving its past?," 28 Mar. 2021 And in my childhood, many years ago, children’s books seemed to be about English children, or pioneer children. Halle Kiefer, Vulture, "Beloved Children’s Author Beverly Cleary Has Died at the Age of 104," 27 Mar. 2021 The biggest problem is safety, according to Marc Raibert, former CEO, and now chairman of Boston Dynamics, a robotics pioneer responsible for agile, animallike robots. Washington Post, "Why it will be years before robot butlers take over your household chores," 23 Mar. 2021 Jean Freeman swam and then helped Carroll Gustafson coach at Ascension, before becoming the Gophers' pioneer coach for women's swimming. Star Tribune, "DeLaSalle's ascension to surprising state swimming title began at Ascension," 20 Mar. 2021 In the tiny town of Caimari, slow food pioneer Maria Solivellas runs Ca Na Toneta. Isabelle Kliger, Forbes, "Why Idyllic Mallorca Should Be Top Of Your Post-Pandemic Bucket List," 18 Mar. 2021 Howell was a physician and pioneer in pediatric hematology, oncology and community medicine who founded San Diego Hospice and the Institute for Palliative Medicine in 1977. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "North County School News, March 18," 18 Mar. 2021 John Cassavetes, actor, most famous for appearing in Rosemary's Baby and The Dirty Dozen, also a pioneer in independent film; Andy Rooney, long-time journalist and commentator for 60 Minutes. Nat Newell, The Indianapolis Star, "How to pick your 2021 March Madness Cinderella: the case for Colgate," 16 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 TikToks deployed a remix of music by Dylan Brady and Laura Les of the band 100 Gecs, which has helped pioneer this era’s emerging misfit aesthetic. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Countercultural Sound of the 2020s," 14 Feb. 2021 Now in beta, the card looks to fulfill the company's goal of speeding up artist payouts -- while helping pioneer a new financial model for the music industry. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, "Create Music Unveils Credit Card for Streaming Royalties: 'We Would Like to Be the Artists' Bank'," 2 Feb. 2021 The lights are used as a way for police to catch red-light offenders, and Richardson was one of the first cities to pioneer the idea. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, "Pickles, disappearing fish and amusement parks: 10 topics Curious Texas explored in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 One of the most remarkable techniques Fincher has helped to pioneer is called shot stabilization. Jonah Weiner, New York Times, "David Fincher’s Impossible Eye," 19 Nov. 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

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pioneer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 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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