1. One who operates or is licensed to operate an aircraft in flight.
a. One who, though not belonging to a ship's company, is licensed to conduct a ship into and out of port or through dangerous waters.
b. The helmsman of a ship.
3. One who guides or directs a course of action for others.
4. The part of a tool, device, or machine that leads or guides the whole.
5. A pilot light, as in a stove.
6. A television program produced as a prototype of a series being considered for adoption by a network.
tr.v. pi·lot·ed, pi·lot·ing, pi·lots
1. To serve as the pilot of (a plane, for example).
2. To steer or control the course of: piloted the visitors around the city. See Synonyms at guide.
1. Serving as a tentative model for future experiment or development: a pilot project.
2. Serving or leading as guide.
[Obsolete French, helmsman, from Old French, from Old Italian pilota, alteration of pedota, from Medieval Greek *pēdōtēs, from Greek pēda, steering oar, pl. of pēdon, blade of an oar; see ped- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.