See more synonyms for pilot 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.
  3. Aeronautics. a person duly qualified to operate an airplane, balloon, or other aircraft.
  4. a guide or leader: the pilot of the expedition.
  5. coast pilot(def 1).
  6. pilot light(def 1).
  7. 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.
  8. Railroads. cowcatcher.
  9. Also called pilot film, pilot tape. 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.
  10. 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.
  3. to act as pilot on, in, or over.
  4. 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

1520–30; earlier pylotte < Middle French pillotte < Italian pilota, dissimilated variant of pedota < Medieval Greek *pēdṓtēs steersman, equivalent to pēd(á) rudder (plural of pēdón oar) + -ōtēs agent suffix
Related formsun·pi·lot·ed, adjectivewell-pi·lot·ed, adjective
Can be confusedPilate pilot

Synonyms for pilot

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for piloted

Contemporary Examples of piloted

Historical Examples of piloted

  • Hence the concession, and hence the appearance of Flora, piloted in by the man, man.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • He saw a figure, larger than the human, that walked among the clouds, and piloted the storm.


    William Godwin

  • The captain had not piloted any new boarders to the High Cliff.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Never seen him before in any ship I piloted in or out all these years.

    Tales Of Hearsay

    Joseph Conrad

  • In the cañon below, Jones, as he piloted her to the subway, pulled at his gloves.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

British Dictionary definitions for piloted


    1. a person who is qualified to operate an aircraft or spacecraft in flight
    2. (as modifier)pilot error
    1. a person who is qualified to steer or guide a ship into or out of a port, river mouth, etc
    2. (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. See pilot film
  8. (modifier) used in or serving as a test or triala pilot project
  9. (modifier) serving as a guidea pilot beacon
verb (tr)
  1. to act as pilot of
  2. to control the course of
  3. to guide or lead (a project, people, etc)

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for piloted

1945, past participle adjective from pilot (v.).



1510s, "one who steers a ship," from Middle French pillote (16c.), from Italian piloto, supposed to be an alteration of Old Italian pedoto, which usually is said to be from Medieval Greek *pedotes "rudder, helmsman," from Greek pedon "steering oar," related to pous (genitive podos) "foot" (see foot (n.)). Change of -d- to -l- in Latin ("Sabine -l-") parallels that in odor/olfactory; see lachrymose.

Sense extended 1848 to "one who controls a balloon," and 1907 to "one who flies an airplane." As an adjective, 1788 as "pertaining to a pilot;" from 1928 as "serving as a prototype." Thus the noun pilot meaning "pilot episode" (etc.), attested from 1962. Pilot light is from 1890.



1640s, "to guide, lead;" 1690s, "to conduct as a pilot," from pilot (n.) or from French piloter. Related: Piloted; piloting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper