Share this entry

pillion Line breaks: pil|lion
Pronunciation: /ˈpɪljən/

Definition of pillion in English:


1A seat for a passenger behind a motorcyclist.
Example sentences
  • The accident last night was one of four serious collisions in North Yorkshire over the Bank Holiday weekend, which left three motorcyclists dead and a pillion passenger seriously injured.
  • Motorcyclists and pillion passengers must wear helmets at all times and motorists must wear safety belts.
  • A motorcycle pillion passenger was killed and its rider seriously injured when their machine was involved in an accident on the A64.
1.1 historical A woman’s light saddle.
1.2 historical A cushion attached to the back of a saddle, on which a second person may ride.


Late 15th century (denoting a light saddle): from Scottish Gaelic pillean, Irish pillín 'small cushion', diminutive of pell, from Latin pellis 'skin'.

  • The first people to ride pillion on horses were not necessarily sharing their mount. In the 15th century a pillion was a light saddle, especially one used by women. Pillion is one of the earliest words to have entered English from Gaelic, coming from Scottish Gaelic pillean and Irish pillín ‘small cushion’, the root of which is Latin pellis ‘skin’, the source also of pelt (Middle English). The sense ‘seat behind a motorcyclist’ dates from the late 19th century


ride pillion

Travel seated behind a motorcyclist.
Example sentences
  • They had returned home with A-Nong riding pillion on Monchai's motorcycle with Mukda following behind on her own motorbike.
  • The inquiry at Westminster Coroner's Court heard how Clayton Skipworth, 22, was riding pillion on a motorcycle on Clapham Common Northside late in the evening of Friday, September 13.
  • The rules to be followed while travelling in buses, autorickshaws, cars and riding pillion on two-wheelers have been listed.

Words that rhyme with pillion

billion, jillion, million, bajillion, modillion, multibillion, multimillion, septillion, sextillion, squillion, trillion, zillion

Definition of pillion in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkɒnfɪdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...