Definition of pilot in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpʌɪlət/


1A person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft: a strike by local airline pilots [as modifier]: the crash had been due to pilot error
More example sentences
  • Jann has posted a collection of conversations between airline pilots and airport control towers.
  • The following is an account of an exchange between airline pilots and a control tower.
  • He compared the procedure to that followed by an airline pilot preparing an aircraft for landing.
airman/airwoman, flyer, aeronaut;
captain, commander, co-pilot, first/second officer, wingman;
informal skipper
dated aviator, aviatrix
North American informal jock, fly boy
1.1A person with expert local knowledge qualified to take charge of a ship entering or leaving a harbour.
Example sentences
  • Built of English oak and Cornish elm, they are traditionally designed and locally built rowing boats originally used to deliver pilots to incoming merchant ships.
  • He was also a ship's pilot, bringing sailing ships in and out of Fenit.
  • I believe I was the last man to leave the ship before the pilot.
navigator, helmsman, guide, steersman, coxswain;
leader, director, usher, escort, attendant
1.2A navigational handbook for use at sea.
1.3 informal A jockey: many expected him to get the job as Desert Orchid’s pilot
More example sentences
  • The Downptarick pilot won the Grand National aboard Lord Gyllene in 1997 and has also finished second in two Cheltenham Gold Cup races.
  • The ten stones turf pilot is the hottest jockey on the island and centre-frame in the up-coming Cheltenham picture.
  • Dettori pilots Falbrav for final workout for Hong Kong Cup
1.4 archaic A guide or leader.
2A television or radio programme made to test audience reaction with a view to the production of a series: he returns to our TV screens in a pilot for a Channel 4 sitcom
More example sentences
  • Mulholland Drive was originally produced as a pilot for a television series, but it was abandoned because ABC found the plot too obscure.
  • The film was initially made as a pilot for a television series, which helps explain why the story is so convoluted.
  • I had once made a TV pilot of the radio programme with him and that had been an enjoyable experience, discussing simple issues like sex and politics with no mention of my childhood.
trial episode, pilot episode, pilot programme;
sample, experiment
2.1 [as modifier] Done as an experiment or test before being introduced more widely: a pilot scheme for training workers
More example sentences
  • This year they announced a big, controversial change to rubbish collection and recycling across the city without any consultation or pilot scheme to test it out.
  • The government has launched an HK $85 million pilot scheme to test the effectiveness of smaller classes in 40 primary schools.
  • The pilot scheme was introduced in Great Ayton after high numbers of bogus callers and high pressure salesmen were seen there, and is backed by Hambleton Community Safety Partnership.
experimental, exploratory, trial, test, sample, model, tentative, speculative, preliminary
2.2 [often as modifier] Telecommunications An unmodulated reference signal transmitted with another signal for the purposes of control or synchronization.
Example sentences
  • In an embodiment of the invention, a particular mobile station transmits a pilot strength measurement message to the base station.
  • While the tracking sensitivity has been greatly enhanced by having a pilot signal, the extremely long code chosen has made it impractical to use it for acquisition.
  • The switch position of each antenna element is programmed for optimum reception during, for example, an idle mode which receives a pilot signal.
3 another term for cowcatcher.
Example sentences
  • Today, people in the railroad industry frown upon the term "cow catcher," but the pilot is still in use.
  • Since diesel locomotives feature front cabs carrying crew, the pilot must be constructed to prevent the cab from being struck by objects deflected from the road.

verb (pilots, piloting, piloted)

[with object]
1Be the pilot of (an aircraft or ship): he piloted the helicopter from Paris to Deauville
More example sentences
  • Ellis and Morscheck were piloting the aeroplanes through a manoeuvre in which one aircraft rejoins the other five while flying in a formation barrel roll on January 21.
  • In 1979 he successfully piloted the same helicopter on an open sea rescue mission in gale force winds, for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross for his skill and bravery.
  • The second reason was that Sali held a civil aviation certificate which enabled him to pilot any aircraft out of the country.
fly, be at the controls of, control, handle, manoeuvre, drive, operate, steer, regulate, monitor, direct, captain
informal skipper
rare aviate
1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Guide or steer: Melissa piloted her through the booking hall
More example sentences
  • But the great majority of the amendments accepted are those from the minister who is piloting the bill through the House.
  • Rumbles will be piloting a bill through the Scottish Parliament to set up the Scottish equivalent of the Westminster sleaze watchdog and says Filkin would be ideal for the job.
  • A former leader of Aberdeen City Council, Sewel was offered a seat in the Lords in 1995 specifically to pilot the devolution bill through Parliament.
navigate, guide, steer, direct, sail, usher, shepherd, show the way to, lead, conduct, escort, convoy
2Test (a scheme, project, etc.) before introducing it more widely: one-day workshops for part-time staff were piloted in June
More example sentences
  • An important part of piloting the coding scheme will be testing for consistency between coders and, if time permits, intra-coder reliability.
  • Thirty schools will be involved in the scheme, 13 in Lancashire, with 24 piloting the scheme and six acting as a control test.
  • The council plans to pilot the scheme from March 1, in Eggborough, Whitley, Camblesforth and Carlton.
test, trial, put to the test, try out, carry out trials on, experiment with, assess, investigate, examine, appraise, evaluate, check out



Pronunciation: /ˈpʌɪlətɪdʒ/
Example sentences
  • Aimed at improving your sailing, it covers pilotage and navigation in tidal waters, selecting and reefing sails, interpreting shipping forecasts, mooring and dealing with emergencies.
  • An Electronic Flight Information System provides primary pilotage and navigation displays for the aircrew.
  • Evasive action after the bombing was also under the pilotage navigator's direction.


Pronunciation: /ˈpʌɪlətləs/
Example sentences
  • The budget devoted $29 billion to the war on terrorism and $9 billion to unconventional arms like pilotless spy planes carrying missiles and laser communications system for troops.
  • The attack was conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency using a pilotless drone aircraft firing hellfire missiles.
  • The CIA launches Hellfires from pilotless Predator aircraft.


Early 16th century (denoting a person who steers a ship): from French pilote, from medieval Latin pilotus, an alteration of pedota, based on Greek pēdon 'oar', (plural) 'rudder'.

  • The aerial pilot appears earlier than expected, with the person flying a balloon being called a pilot in the 1830s. The ultimate root is Greek pēdon ‘oar, rudder’. To drop the pilot is to abandon a trustworthy adviser. ‘Dropping the pilot’ was the caption of a famous cartoon by John Tenniel, published in Punch on 20 March 1890. It depicted Kaiser Wilhelm II's dismissal of Otto von Bismarck as German Chancellor, who had guided the country for many years.

Words that rhyme with pilot


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pilot

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