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noun har·bin·ger \ˈhär-bən-jər\

Simple Definition of harbinger

  • : something that shows what is coming

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of harbinger

  1. 1 archaic :  a person sent ahead to provide lodgings

  2. 2 a :  one that pioneers in or initiates a major change :  precursor b :  one that presages or foreshadows what is to come

Examples of harbinger in a sentence

  1. <her father's successful job interview was seen as a harbinger of better times to come>

Did You Know?

When medieval travelers needed lodging for the night, they went looking for a harbinger. As long ago as the 12th century, "harbinger" was used to mean "one who provides lodging" or "a host," but that meaning is now obsolete. By the late 1300s, "harbinger" was also being used for a person sent ahead of a main party to seek lodgings, often for royalty or a campaigning army, but that old sense has largely been left in the past, too. Both of those historical senses are true to the Anglo-French parent of "harbinger," the word herberge, meaning "lodgings." The most common sense of the word nowadays, the "forerunner" sense, has been with us since the mid-1500s.

Origin and Etymology of harbinger

Middle English herbergere, from Anglo-French, host, from herberge camp, lodgings, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German heriberga

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of harbinger

forerunner, precursor, harbinger, herald mean one that goes before or announces the coming of another. forerunner is applicable to anything that serves as a sign or presage <the blockade was the forerunner of war>. precursor applies to a person or thing paving the way for the success or accomplishment of another <18th century poets like Burns were precursors of the Romantics>. harbinger and herald both apply, chiefly figuratively, to one that proclaims or announces the coming or arrival of a notable event <their early victory was the harbinger of a winning season> <the herald of a new age in medicine>.



verb har·bin·ger

Definition of harbinger

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to be a harbinger of :  presage

Examples of harbinger in a sentence

  1. <the hope that the housing slump does not harbinger a general economic recession>


First Known Use of harbinger


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up harbinger? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to the heavens

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