follow Dictionary.com

Love words? Sign up for our Word of the Day!

pilot

[pahy-luh t] /ˈpaɪ lət/
noun
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)
11.
to steer.
12.
to lead, guide, or conduct, as through unknown places, intricate affairs, etc.
13.
to act as pilot on, in, or over.
14.
to be in charge of or responsible for:
We're looking for someone to pilot the new project.
adjective
15.
serving as an experimental or trial undertaking prior to full-scale operation or use:
a pilot project.
Origin
1520-1530
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 forms
unpiloted, adjective
well-piloted, adjective
Can be confused
Pilate, pilot.
Synonyms
2. helmsman. 13. maneuver, manage.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for pilot
  • It also referred incorrectly to sport pilot licenses.
  • Our laptop requirement came only after several years of pilot projects that explored laptops' role in pedagogy.
  • It was equipped with digital systems that unerringly corrected for pilot error as well as any buffeting caused by bad weather.
  • pilot whales are extremely social animals, living in pods that sometimes contain hundreds of individuals.
  • Apparently nobody thought that a pilot who wants to hijack a plane doesn't need a scissors.
  • As it stands, for one pilot to learn about turbulence pretty much means another pilot elsewhere has already encountered it.
  • Drill pilot holes and screw the spreaders to the legs.
  • It's easy to switch into automatic pilot mode when it comes to planning a course.
  • Now research has put up a surprising candidate to join this high-speed predatory club: the short-finned pilot whale.
  • Kids can print illustrations of pilot whales and other animals to color or use in school projects.
British Dictionary definitions for pilot

pilot

/ˈpaɪlət/
noun
1.
  1. a person who is qualified to operate an aircraft or spacecraft in flight
  2. (as modifier): pilot error
2.
  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
3.
a person who steers a ship
4.
a person who acts as a leader or guide
5.
(machinery) a guide, often consisting of a tongue or dowel, used to assist in joining two mating parts together
6.
(machinery) a plug gauge for measuring an internal diameter
7.
(films) a colour test strip accompanying black-and-white rushes from colour originals
8.
an experimental programme on radio or television
9.
10.
(modifier) used in or serving as a test or trial: a pilot project
11.
(modifier) serving as a guide: a pilot beacon
verb (transitive)
12.
to act as pilot of
13.
to control the course of
14.
to guide or lead (a project, people, etc)
Word Origin
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for pilot
n.

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.

v.

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
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for pilot

pilot

noun
  1. The manager of a sports team
  2. A jockey (1940s+)
Related Terms

sky-pilot


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
pilot in Technology


Programmed Inquiry Learning Or Teaching. CAI language, many versions. "Guide to 8080 PILOT", J. Starkweather, Dr Dobb's J (Apr 1977).

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source
Related Abbreviations for pilot

PILOT

phased integrated laser optics technology
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for pilot

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for pilot

7
9
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with pilot

Nearby words for pilot