- a person duly qualified to steer ships into or out of a harbor or through certain difficult waters.
- a person who steers a ship.
- Aeronautics. a person duly qualified to operate an airplane, balloon, or other aircraft.
- a guide or leader: the pilot of the expedition.
- coast pilot(def 1).
- pilot light(def 1).
- 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.
- Railroads. cowcatcher.
- 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.
- a preliminary or experimental trial or test: The school will offer a pilot of its new computer course.
verb (used with object)
- to steer.
- to lead, guide, or conduct, as through unknown places, intricate affairs, etc.
- to act as pilot on, in, or over.
- to be in charge of or responsible for: We’re looking for someone to pilot the new project.
- serving as an experimental or trial undertaking prior to full-scale operation or use: a pilot project.
- a person who is qualified to operate an aircraft or spacecraft in flight
- (as modifier)pilot error
- a person who is qualified to steer or guide a ship into or out of a port, river mouth, etc
- (as modifier)a pilot ship
- a person who steers a ship
- a person who acts as a leader or guide
- machinery a guide, often consisting of a tongue or dowel, used to assist in joining two mating parts together
- machinery a plug gauge for measuring an internal diameter
- films a colour test strip accompanying black-and-white rushes from colour originals
- an experimental programme on radio or television
- See pilot film
- (modifier) used in or serving as a test or triala pilot project
- (modifier) serving as a guidea pilot beacon
- to act as pilot of
- to control the course of
- to guide or lead (a project, people, etc)
adj.1945, past participle adjective from pilot (v.). 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.