[ pahy-luht ]
See synonyms for: pilotpilotedpiloting on Thesaurus.com

  1. a person duly qualified to steer ships into or out of a harbor or through certain difficult waters.

  2. a person who steers a ship.

  1. Aeronautics. a person duly qualified to operate an airplane, balloon, or other aircraft.

  2. a guide or leader: the pilot of the expedition.

  3. Machinery. a guide for centering or otherwise positioning two adjacent parts, often consisting of a projection on one part fitting into a recess in the other.

  4. Railroads. cowcatcher.

  5. Also called pi·lot film [pahy-luht film], /ˈpaɪ lət ˌfɪlm/, pi·lot tape [pahy-luht teyp] /ˈpaɪ lət ˌteɪp/ .Television. a prototypical filmed or taped feature, produced with hopes of network adoption as a television series and aired to test potential viewer interest and attract sponsors.

  6. a preliminary or experimental trial or test: The school will offer a pilot of its new computer course.

verb (used with object)
  1. to steer.

  2. to lead, guide, or conduct, as through unknown places, intricate affairs, etc.

  1. to act as pilot on, in, or over.

  2. to be in charge of or responsible for: We're looking for someone to pilot the new project.

  1. serving as an experimental or trial undertaking prior to full-scale operation or use: a pilot project.

Origin of pilot

First recorded in 1520–30; earlier pylotte, from Middle French pillotte, from Italian pilota, dissimilated variant of pedota, from unattested Medieval Greek pēdṓtēs “steersman,” equivalent to pēd(á) “rudder” (plural of pēdón “oar”) + -ōtēs agent suffix

Other words for pilot

Other words from pilot

  • un·pi·lot·ed, adjective
  • well-pi·lot·ed, adjective

Words Nearby pilot

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

How to use pilot in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pilot


/ (ˈpaɪlət) /

    • a person who is qualified to operate an aircraft or spacecraft in flight

    • (as modifier): pilot error

    • a person who is qualified to steer or guide a ship into or out of a port, river mouth, etc

    • (as modifier): a pilot ship

  1. a person who steers a ship

  2. a person who acts as a leader or guide

  3. machinery a guide, often consisting of a tongue or dowel, used to assist in joining two mating parts together

  4. machinery a plug gauge for measuring an internal diameter

  5. films a colour test strip accompanying black-and-white rushes from colour originals

  6. an experimental programme on radio or television

  7. (modifier) used in or serving as a test or trial: a pilot project

  8. (modifier) serving as a guide: a pilot beacon

  1. to act as pilot of

  2. to control the course of

  1. to guide or lead (a project, people, etc)

Origin of pilot

C16: from French pilote, from Medieval Latin pilotus, ultimately from Greek pēdon oar; related to Greek pous foot

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