Etymology
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pilot (n.)

1510s, "one who steers a ship," especially one who has charge of the helm when the ship is passing in or out of harbor, from 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," from PIE root *ped- "foot." The change of -d- to -l- in Latin-derived languages ("Sabine -l-") parallels that in odor/olfactory; see lachrymose.

The transferred or figurative sense "a guide, a director of the course of others" is by 1590s. The literal sense was extended by 1848 to "one who controls a balloon," and by 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. A pilot light (by 1890) is a very small light kept burning beside a large burner to automatically light the main burner when the flow is turned on.

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pilot (v.)

1640s, figurative, "to guide, to lead, direct the course of, especially through an intricate or perilous passage;" 1690s in the literal sense "to conduct (a vessel) as a pilot," from pilot (n.) or from French piloter. Related: Piloted; piloting.

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pilot-house (n.)

"enclosed place on the deck of a ship which shelters the steering-gear and the pilot," by 1846, from pilot (n.) + house (n.).

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pilot-fish (n.)

type of warm-water fish, 1630s, from pilot (n.) + fish (n.). So called because they were thought to lead sharks to prey. It is uncertain whether this is the same fish known to the Ancients as pompilus (Greek pompilos, "pilot").

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piloted (adj.)

"directed by a pilot," 1945, past-participle adjective from pilot (v.).

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pilotless (adj.)

c. 1600, "unguided," from pilot (n.) + -less. In 20c. of aircraft, etc., "self-directing, not requiring a pilot." 

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copilot (n.)

also co-pilot, "a second pilot of an airplane," 1927, from co- + pilot (n.). As a verb from 1933. Related: Copiloted; co-piloted.

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autopilot (n.)

also auto-pilot, 1917, originally in airplanes, from auto- + pilot (n.). Figurative use (of persons, behaviors) by 1996.

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*ped- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "foot."

It forms all or part of: antipodes; apodal; Arthropoda; babouche; biped; brachiopod; cap-a-pie; centipede; cephalopod; cheliped; chiropodist; expedite; expedition; foot; foosball; fetch (v.); fetter; fetlock; gastropod; hexapod; impair; impede; impediment; impeach; impeccable; isopod; millipede; octopus; Oedipus; ornithopod; pajamas; pawn (n.2) "lowly chess piece;" peccadillo; peccant; peccavi; pedal; pedestrian; pedicel; pedicle; pedicure; pedigree; pedology; pedometer; peduncle; pejoration; pejorative; peon; pessimism; petiole; pew; Piedmont; piepowder; pilot; pinniped; pioneer; platypus; podiatry; podium; polyp; pseudopod; quadruped; sesquipedalian; stapes; talipes; tetrapod; Theropoda; trapezium; trapezoid; tripod; trivet; vamp (n.1) "upper part of a shoe or boot;" velocipede.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pad-, accusative padam "foot;" Avestan pad-; Greek pos, Attic pous, genitive podos; Latin pes, genitive pedis "foot;" Lithuanian padas "sole," pėda "footstep;" Old English fot, German Fuß, Gothic fotus "foot."

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govern (v.)
late 13c., "to rule with authority," from Old French governer "steer, be at the helm of; govern, rule, command, direct" (11c., Modern French gouverner), from Latin gubernare "to direct, rule, guide, govern" (source also of Spanish gobernar, Italian governare), originally "to steer, to pilot," a nautical borrowing from Greek kybernan "to steer or pilot a ship, direct as a pilot," figuratively "to guide, govern" (the root of cybernetics). The -k- to -g- sound shift is perhaps via the medium of Etruscan. Intransitive sense from 1590s. Related: Governed; governing.
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