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bellwether

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

Simple Definition of bellwether

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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of bellwether

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

Examples of bellwether in a sentence

  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



Did You Know?

We usually think of sheep more as followers than leaders, but in a flock one sheep must lead the way. Long ago, it was common practice for shepherds to hang a bell around the neck of one sheep in their flock, thereby designating it the lead sheep. This animal was called the bellwether, a word formed by a combination of the Middle English words belle (meaning "bell") and wether (a noun that refers to a male sheep that has been castrated). It eventually followed that bellwether would come to refer to someone who takes initiative or who actively establishes a trend that is taken up by others. This usage first appeared in English in the 13th century.

Origin and Etymology of bellwether

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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