[ 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use pathfinder in a sentence

  • 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
  • The trouble began when Smith was pathfinding on the upper Athabasca for the new transcontinental.

    The Last Spike | Cy Warman
  • Fremont's "pathfinding" virtually completed the exploration of the country.

    American Men of Action | Burton E. Stevenson

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