noun bell·weth·er \ˈbel-ˈwe-thər, -ˌwe-\

: someone or something that leads others or shows what will happen in the future

Full Definition of BELLWETHER

:  one that takes the lead or initiative :  leader; also :  an indicator of trends

Examples of BELLWETHER

  1. She is a bellwether of fashion.
  2. High-tech bellwethers led the decline in the stock market.
  3. a county that is a bellwether in national elections


Middle English, leading sheep of a flock, leader, from belle bell + wether; from the practice of belling the leader of a flock
First Known Use: 13th century


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