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The word came into English in the early 16th century, denoting a person who steers a ship, via French from medieval Latin pilotus, an alteration of pedota, based on Greek pēdon ‘oar’ (plural) ‘rudder’.

drop the pilot abandon a trustworthy adviser; after a cartoon by John Tenniel in Punch 20 March 1890 depicting the recent dismissal of Bismarck from the Chancellorship of Germany by the new young German Emperor William II; the caption read ‘dropping the pilot’.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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