pilot Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun someone who is licensed to operate an aircraft in flight
    airplane pilot.
  2. noun a person qualified to guide ships through difficult waters going into or out of a harbor
  3. noun a program exemplifying a contemplated series; intended to attract sponsors
    pilot program; pilot film.
  4. noun something that serves as a model or a basis for making copies
    archetype; original.
    • this painting is a copy of the original
  5. noun small auxiliary gas burner that provides a flame to ignite a larger gas burner
    pilot burner; pilot light.
  6. noun an inclined metal frame at the front of a locomotive to clear the track
    buffer; fender; cowcatcher.
  7. verb operate an airplane
    fly; aviate.
    • The pilot flew to Cuba
  8. verb act as the navigator in a car, plane, or vessel and plan, direct, plot the path and position of the conveyance
    • Is anyone volunteering to navigate during the trip?
    • Who was navigating the ship during the accident?


Pi"lot noun
F. pilote, prob. from D. peillood plummet, sounding lead; peilen, pegelen, to sound, measure (fr. D. & G. peil, pegel, a sort of measure, water mark) + lood lead, akin to E. lead. The pilot, then, is the lead man, i.e., he who throws the lead. See Pail, and Lead a metal.
  1. (Naut.) One employed to steer a vessel; a helmsman; a steersman. Dryden.
  2. Specifically, a person duly qualified, and licensed by authority, to conduct vessels into and out of a port, or in certain waters, for a fixed rate of fees.
  3. Figuratively: A guide; a director of another through a difficult or unknown course.
  4. An instrument for detecting the compass error.
  5. The cowcatcher of a locomotive. U.S.
Pi"lot transitive verb
Cf. F. piloter.
imperfect & past participle Piloted; present participle & verbal noun Piloting
  1. To direct the course of, as of a ship, where navigation is dangerous.
  2. Figuratively: To guide, as through dangers or difficulties. "The art of piloting a state." Berkeley. to operate (an airlane)

Webster 1913