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The pioneers left a blazing trial of courage and chivalry.

In this sentence, does the word pioneer mean explorers, inventors or settlers? It is answered as settlers here.

But I think it ought to be explorers, because the word left in the sentence sounds like the pioneers left something for the subsequent visitors.

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    The fact that the site can't tell the difference between "trial" and "trail" doesn't do much for their credibility ... Jan 8, 2014 at 7:15
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    As a side note; remember that the personal pronoun I is always capitalized. Nouns that are not proper nouns or at the beginning of a sentence should not be capitalized.
    – Matt
    Jan 8, 2014 at 7:44
  • @Matt: Sorry for i didn't concentrate on those. Thanks. Jan 8, 2014 at 7:47

3 Answers 3

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I'm not personally a big fan of this kind of exercises (the one mentioned in the question). It's too often that the context wasn't clear enough.

However, let's analyze it. Here are the definitions of those keywords I chose from what Google gave,

blaze (v.) set an example by being the first to do something; pioneer. "small firms would set the pace, blazing a trail for others to follow"
courage (n.) strength in the face of pain or grief.
chivalry (n.) the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, esp. courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.

Here are some of the definitions for pioneer,

  • a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.
    synonyms: settler, colonist, colonizer, frontiersman, frontierswoman, explorer, trailblazer, bushwhacker
    "the pioneers of the Wild West"
  • a person who is among the first to research and develop a new area of knowledge or activity.
    "a famous pioneer of birth control"
    synonyms: developer, innovator, trailblazer, groundbreaker, spearhead; founder, founding father, architect, creator
    "an aviation pioneer"

Obviously, pioneer is a synonym for settler, colonist, explorer, and innovator. And innovator is not very far from inventor. However, let's get back to the sentence,

The pioneers left a blazing trail of courage and chivalry.

With the words courage and chivalry, the word inventor is an unlikely answer (though it can be argued that many inventors were also full of courage and chivalry qualities). The basic sense of the word inventor is "a person who invented something." Also, the word colonialist is not quite the same as colonist. The Free Dictionary defines colonialist as a believer in colonialism. This makes colonialist not a good answer.

Thus we are left with two good choices: explorers and settlers. Here are their definitions,

explorer (n.) a person who explores an unfamiliar area; an adventurer.
settler (n.) a person who settles in an area, typically one with no or few previous inhabitants.

When talking about leaving something behind (a blazing trail in this case), settler seems to fit better. However, in my opinion, both of them (explorers and setters) can be a good answer.

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    But pal, doesn't Settlers stay in the place? Or they move on leaving a trail as Explorers do? Jan 8, 2014 at 7:44
  • Settlers would stay, but the sentence "The pioneers left a blazing trial of courage and chivalry" makes it sound as if, as least to me, we are talking about those who already passed away and no longer stay with us. They don't really have to be dead, but their settling must have already been done in the past. Jan 8, 2014 at 7:46
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    Can you pls alter the sentence for we can have 'Explorers'as the answer. Because i can't settle with Settlers. Jan 8, 2014 at 7:50
  • I'm sorry that I can't change my opinion. However, I can "delete" the last sentence about the choice I would choose if I were forced to choose. Does that sound fair enough? Jan 8, 2014 at 7:53
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    Maybe I misunderstood you. Do you want me to make it clear that settlers is "the answer"? (That's fine with me too.) Jan 8, 2014 at 7:59
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I think the writer of the question is using pioneers in the sense of American pioneers, the people who migrated to settle the western parts of the United States. This is why the closest answer is settlers.

However I think it's a poor question since the single sentence really doesn't give enough context to make it clear that that's what they mean.

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We should know the context. Without it, there is even one more possibility - the pioneers as a kind of soldiers, who perform construction and demolition work in the field to facilitate troop movement. It fits the best.

All meanings are:

  1. One who ventures into unknown or unclaimed territory to settle.
  2. One who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development: a pioneer in aviation.
  3. A soldier who performs construction and demolition work in the field to facilitate troop movements.
  4. Ecology An animal or plant species that establishes itself in a previously barren environment.

The "choosing" question, as usually, is incorrect - it is ambiguous at least and the best meaning is not proposed.


Because of the "manliness", inventors are inprobable(not impossible though).

Colonialists are OK, the settlers were colonialists, but it doesn't fit emotionally - "colonialists" have negative connotation and "chivalry" - positive.

Settlers could be OK if we can be sure the author takes them positively. An Indian author rather not.

Explorers are definitely OK. They could and did expose all those qualities and are taken positively by all sides.

I would say that explorers are the best answer of the proposed ones. But with question set so badly you can never tell what they meant.

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