[ path-fahyn-der, pahth‐ ]
See synonyms for pathfinder on
  1. a person who finds or makes a path, way, route, etc., especially through a previously unexplored or untraveled wilderness.

  2. an airplane, or a person dropped from a plane, sent into a target area to illuminate the area for succeeding aircraft.

  1. a radar beacon beamed into a target area to provide guidance for missiles seeking the target.

  2. (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

Other words from pathfinder

  • pathfinding, noun, adjective

Words Nearby pathfinder Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pathfinder in a sentence

  • Hark'e pathfinder, I very much doubt if this stripe of water here be even a lake; for to me it appears to be only a river.

    The Pathfinder | James Fenimore Cooper
  • He accordingly accompanied his niece, leaving Sergeant Dunham and his friend, the pathfinder, alone together.

    The Pathfinder | James Fenimore Cooper
  • The fact was; few knew the pathfinder intimately without secretly believing him to be one of extraordinary qualities.

    The Pathfinder | James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for pathfinder


/ (ˈpɑːθˌfaɪndə) /

  1. a person who makes or finds a way, esp through unexplored areas or fields of knowledge

  2. an aircraft or parachutist who indicates a target area by dropping flares, etc

  1. a radar device used for navigation or homing onto a target

Derived forms of pathfinder

  • 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