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

Essential Meaning of pioneer

1 : a person who helps create or develop new ideas, methods, etc.
2 : someone who is one of the first people to move to and live in a new area the pioneers who settled in the American West in the 19th century

Full 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

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 In this week’s SportsMoney Playbook: inside the launch of the Seattle Kraken, the NBA's investment pioneer and the business of being Megan Rapinoe. Justin Birnbaum, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021 As a pioneer of early rock and roll and one of the greatest live acts in music history, Turner first earned induction as part of Ike and Tina Turner in 1991. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 29 Oct. 2021 In the wake of a tweet from Elon Musk earlier this year expressing his desire to bring his cars to India, and eventually build them here, communications between the US electric pioneer and Indian officials have been ongoing. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 17 Sep. 2021 During the sport’s golden era in the 1990s, Lindgren was its pioneer and champion, fearlessly paddling rapids and waterfalls with his brother and friends while filming their expeditions and releasing short films on VHS. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Aug. 2021 Utah climbing pioneer and former Salt Lake City mayor Ted Wilson said. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 23 Aug. 2021 Wally Funk, a female aviation pioneer and Grapevine resident, is slated to become the oldest astronaut at 82 years old. Dallas News, 20 July 2021 Jean-Michel Jarre, the electronic music pioneer and former president of CISAC, the global confederation of authors societies, has been awarded the French Legion of Honour, the country's highest order of merit. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 24 June 2021 The antivirus pioneer and alleged cryptocurrency scammer was 75 years old. Brian Barrett, Wired, 23 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Halo is among the most popular online games ever, helping to pioneer first-person shooters on video game consoles. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 19 Nov. 2021 In the years that followed, the clinical psychologist, who died last month at 94, helped pioneer the field of neuropsychology, becoming an expert in evaluating and rehabilitating brain injury. oregonlive, 2 Nov. 2021 Sonic Youth was one of the early bands to pioneer a national circuit for indie artists. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, 26 Oct. 2021 Rabbi Grollman also helped pioneer the field of crisis intervention, traveling nationally and internationally to scenes that included school shootings and New York City, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks., 24 Oct. 2021 Across the song’s 4:30 runtime, the trio joined forces to pioneer an unprecedented R&B lane, defined by its versatility. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 25 Aug. 2021 Still, the deal is a milestone for a startup that helped pioneer zero-commission trading and is rapidly adding users. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 30 July 2021 Remember, disruptive megawinners routinely pioneer whole new industries. Stephen Mcbride, Forbes, 21 June 2021 YouTube, the video-sharing platform launched in 2005 and bought by Google the next year, helped pioneer offerings to pay users who were helping drive viewership. WSJ, 15 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries Near pioneer



Pioneer Day

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Last Updated

28 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pioneer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for pioneer


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on pioneer

Nglish: Translation of pioneer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pioneer for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pioneer


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