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pioneer (n.)

1520s, "one of a party or company of foot soldiers furnished with digging and cutting equipment who prepare the way for the army," from French pionnier "foot-soldier, military pioneer," from Old French paonier "foot-soldier" (11c.), extended form of peon (see pawn (n.2)). Figurative sense of "a first or early explorer, person who goes first or does something first" is from c. 1600. Related: Pioneers.

pioneer (v.)

"to lead or prepare the way to or for, go before and open (a way)," 1780, from pioneer (n.). Related: Pioneered; pioneering.

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Definitions of pioneer from WordNet
1
pioneer (v.)
open up an area or prepare a way;
She pioneered a graduate program for women students
Synonyms: open up
pioneer (v.)
take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of;
This South African surgeon pioneered heart transplants
Synonyms: initiate
pioneer (v.)
open up and explore a new area;
pioneer space
2
pioneer (n.)
someone who helps to open up a new line of research or technology or art;
Synonyms: innovator / trailblazer / groundbreaker
pioneer (n.)
one of the first colonists or settlers in a new territory;
they went west as pioneers with only the possessions they could carry with them
From wordnet.princeton.edu

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