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From Scottish Gaelic pillean (little rug), from Latin pellis (animal skin, pelt).



pillion (plural pillions)

  1. A pad behind the saddle of a horse for a second rider.
    • 1861, George Eliot, “Chapter 11”, in Silas Marner:
      It was all the greater triumph to Miss Nancy Lammeter's beauty that she looked thoroughly bewitching in that costume, as, seated on the pillion behind her tall, erect father, she held one arm round him, and looked down, with open-eyed anxiety, at the treacherous snow-covered pools and puddles, which sent up formidable splashings of mud under the stamp of Dobbin's foot.
  2. A similar second saddle on a motorcycle for a passenger.
  3. The person riding in the pillion.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


pillion (comparative more pillion, superlative most pillion)

  1. Riding behind the driving rider, as when positioned on the rump of a mount.



pillion (third-person singular simple present pillions, present participle pillioning, simple past and past participle pillioned)

  1. To ride on a pillion.
    • 1857, William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians: A Tale of the Last Century:
      When he had gazed at the stars sufficiently as they shone over his mistress's window, and put her candle to bed, re repaired to his own dormitory, and there, no doubt, thought of his Maria andhis horse with youthful satisfaction, and how sweet it would be to have one pillioned on the other, and to make the tour of all the island on such an animal with such a pair of white arms round his waist.
    • 1933, The Sussex County Magazine - Volume 7, page 51:
      A ferlie (fairy) he spied with his ee, And there he saw a lady bright, Come riding down by the Elldon tree"— a lady who had "fifty siller bells and nine" on each lock of her horse's mane, and who pillioned Thomas the Rhymer, and took him, "red blude to the knee," thorugh the mirk, mirk night, to the place where "They saw neither sun nor moon."
    • 1935 January 31, Thomas Edward Lawrence, Letter to Pat Knowles:
      I caught the train just after you went (it was a good idea, that pillion ride - though pretty awful pillioning with a suitcase and masterpiece in one's arms!) and dumped the m-p in London on Emery Walker, to be photographed half size and collotyped, 100 copies.
    • 2011, Al Culler, Motorcycle Travels and Travails:
      I met a Latvian lass who enjoyed pillioning, showed me her country and best spots - yes, the best way to enjoy a country!
    • 2018, Sue McDonagh, Summer at the Art Cafe, →ISBN:
      But we thought she could start out by pillioning me, and then she can decide whether she still wants to learn to ride her own little bike.
  2. To put a pillion on a horse.
    • 1764, Dennis Donovan & ‎Jacob Andrews Woodward, The History of the Town of Lyndeborough, New Hampshire,1735-1905:
      Accordingly, he saddled and pillioned his horse, thinking he might have the honor of bringing the bride himself.
    • 1871, Paul Peppergrass, The Spaewife ; Or, The Queens̓ Secret: A Story of the Reign of Elizabeth:
      But ordher one iv yer men to pillion the horse in a jiffy, for onct we get hoult iv the money bags, we must be off, or Tom Riddle won't lave a bone in my body but he'll break into smithereens.
    • 1872, George Augustus Sala & ‎Edmund Yates, Temple Bar - Volume 34, page 407:
      Noisy congratulations followed ; then the swiftest horse was chosen, and saddled, bridled, and pillioned.