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From Middle French pionnier (originally, a foot soldier), Old French peonier, from peon (a foot soldier) (modern French: pion). See pawn in chess.


  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ˌpaɪəˈnɪəɹ/
  • Rhymes: -ɪə(ɹ)


pioneer (plural pioneers)

  1. One who goes before, as into the wilderness, preparing the way for others to follow.
  2. A person or other entity who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.
    • 2013 May 10, Audrey Garric, “Urban canopies let nature bloom”, in The Guardian Weekly[1], volume 188, number 22, page 30:
      As towns continue to grow, replanting vegetation has become a form of urban utopia and green roofs are spreading fast. Last year 1m square metres of plant-covered roofing was built in France, as much as in the US, and 10 times more than in Germany, the pioneer in this field.
    Some people will consider their national heroes to be pioneers of civilization.
    Certain politicians can be considered as pioneers of reform.
  3. (obsolete, military) A soldier detailed or employed to form roads, dig trenches, and make bridges, as an army advances; a sapper.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], part 1, 2nd edition, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, OCLC 932920499; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire; London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act III, scene i:
      [King of] Fess. What thinks your greatnes beſt to be atchieu’d
      In purſuit of the Cities ouerthrow?
      Bai[azeth]. I wil the captiue Pioners of Argier,
      Cut off the water, that by leaden pipes
      Runs to the citie from the mountain Carnon, []
  4. A member of any of several European organizations advocating abstinence from alcohol.
  5. (communism) A member of a children’s organization operated by the Communist Party, typically in the second of three stages toward becoming an member of the Party itself.

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pioneer (third-person singular simple present pioneers, present participle pioneering, simple past and past participle pioneered)

  1. (transitive) To be the first to do or achieve (something), preparing the way for others to follow.
    The young doctor pioneered a new life-saving surgical technique.