Origin of pioneer

1515–25; < Middle French pionier, Old French peonier foot soldier. See peon1, -eer
Related formsun·pi·o·neer·ing, adjective

Synonyms for pioneer

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pioneer

Contemporary Examples of pioneer

Historical Examples of pioneer

  • The pastoral interest is the pioneer interest of a new colony.

  • A pioneer is a brave fellow, with the courage of his own curiosity.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Mr. Gladstone may be regarded as the pioneer of the movement.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Why, he had promised me that I should have pioneer's rights in the realm of beauty.

  • He wanted to be a pioneer only in financial paths; and after all, this was our mountain now.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

British Dictionary definitions for pioneer



  1. a colonist, explorer, or settler of a new land, region, etc
  2. (as modifier)a pioneer wagon
an innovator or developer of something new
military a member of an infantry group that digs entrenchments, makes roads, etc
ecology the first species of plant or animal to colonize an area of bare ground


to be a pioneer (in or of)
(tr) to initiate, prepare, or open upto pioneer a medical programme

Word Origin for pioneer

C16: from Old French paonier infantryman, from paon pawn ²; see also peon 1




a total abstainer from alcoholic drink, esp a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, a society devoted to abstention




any of a series of US spacecraft that studied the solar system, esp Pioneer 10, which made the first flyby of Jupiter (1973), and Pioneer 11, which made the first flyby of Saturn (1979)
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 pioneer

1520s, "foot soldier who prepares the way for the army," from Middle French pionnier "foot-soldier, pioneer," from Old French paonier "foot-soldier" (11c.), from peon (see pawn (n.2)). Figurative sense of "person who goes first or does something first" is from c.1600. Related: Pioneers.


1780, from pioneer (n.). Related: Pioneered; pioneering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper