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[path-fahyn-der, pahth‐] /ˈpæθˌfaɪn dər, ˈpɑθ‐/
a person who finds or makes a path, way, route, etc., especially through a previously unexplored or untraveled wilderness.
an airplane, or a person dropped from a plane, sent into a target area to illuminate the area for succeeding aircraft.
a radar beacon beamed into a target area to provide guidance for missiles seeking the target.
(initial capital letter) an unmanned spacecraft that landed on Mars on July 4, 1997, to obtain climatic and geologic data.
Origin of pathfinder
An Americanism dating back to 1830-40; path + finder
Related forms
pathfinding, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pathfinding
Historical Examples
  • Fremont's "pathfinding" virtually completed the exploration of the country.

    American Men of Action Burton E. Stevenson
  • The trouble began when Smith was pathfinding on the upper Athabasca for the new transcontinental.

    The Last Spike Cy Warman
  • Wonderful as they were, with their pathfinding and all that, they could hardly penetrate to his humble, sequestered little home.

    Pee-wee Harris on the Trail Percy Keese Fitzhugh
British Dictionary definitions for pathfinding


a person who makes or finds a way, esp through unexplored areas or fields of knowledge
an aircraft or parachutist who indicates a target area by dropping flares, etc
a radar device used for navigation or homing onto a target
Derived Forms
pathfinding, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pathfinding



1839 (Cooper), from path + finder.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pathfinding in Medicine

pathfinder path·find·er (pāth'fīn'dər)
A filiform bougie for introduction through a narrow stricture as a guide for the passage of a larger instrument.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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