precursor

noun
pre·​cur·​sor | \ pri-ˈkər-sər How to pronounce precursor (audio) , ˈprē-ˌkər- How to pronounce precursor (audio) \

Definition of precursor

1a : one that precedes and indicates the approach of another
2 : a substance, cell, or cellular component from which another substance, cell, or cellular component is formed

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Other Words from precursor

precursory \ pri-​ˈkərs-​rē How to pronounce precursory (audio) , -​ˈkər-​sə-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for precursor

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

Precursor Has Latin Roots

With its prefix pre-, meaning "before", a precursor is literally a "forerunner", and in fact forerunner first appeared as the translation of the Latin praecursor. But the two words function a little differently today. A forerunner may simply come before another thing, but a precursor generally paves the way for something. So, for example, the Office of Strategic Services in World War II was the immediate precursor of today's Central Intelligence Agency, while the blues music of the 1930s and 1940s was only one of the precursors of the rock and roll of today.

Examples of precursor in a Sentence

18th-century lyric poets like Robert Burns were precursors of the Romantics a precursor of the modern eggplant

Recent Examples on the Web

In orthodoxy and all the textbooks, the RNA World—that’s kind of the precursor to the DNA world—was here on Earth four billion years ago. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "What If Life Did Not Originate on Earth?," 8 July 2019 The prevailing teams at the time were state-owned - CSKA Moscow, established in 1911, was the official team of the Soviet Army, Dynamo Moscow was affiliated with the MVD (ministry of internal affairs) and the precursor to the KGB. SI.com, "Viktor Maslov: Soviet Pioneer of the 4-4-2 Formation & the Inventor of Pressing," 28 June 2019 In January, the German Workers’ Party, the fiercely nationalistic and anti-Semitic precursor to the Nazis, was launched in Munich—nearly six months before the terms of the Versailles treaty were known. Joseph Loconte, WSJ, "The Versailles Treaty Gets a Bum Rap," 27 June 2019 But in the Trump administration, a right-wing media firestorm—even when based on misleading information and anonymous jabs—is often the precursor to White House personnel and policy changes. Heather Timmons, Quartz, "Homeland Security chief’s future uncertain after a right-wing media assault," 26 June 2019 By 1922, Carrier had created the safer, smaller and more powerful Centrifugal Refrigeration Compressor, the precursor to modern air conditioning. Haleema Shah, Smithsonian, "The Unexpected History of the Air Conditioner," 24 June 2019 These would control the synthesis of molecules in a way that gets rid of the need for complicated chemical reactions and extensive infrastructure to supply large volumes of the right precursors. Andrew Hessel, Ars Technica, "Printing vaccines at the pharmacy or at home will be the way of the future," 20 June 2019 Pumpkin is packed with beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A — an important antioxidant for visual acuity and skin integrity — as well as vitamins C and E, also important antioxidants for repairing your body’s cells from damage. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Pumpkin Health Benefits Every Fall Lover Needs to Know About," 14 June 2019 There are some detours into more traditional figural studies, including a series of swans that can be seen as a kind of precursor to M.C. Escher’s tessellations. Jeffrey Bauman, ELLE Decor, "See This Record-Breaking Guggenheim Exhibit Before It’s Gone," 18 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precursor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of precursor

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for precursor

Middle English precursoure, from Latin praecursor, from praecurrere to run before, from prae- pre- + currere to run — more at current

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Learn More about precursor

Dictionary Entries near precursor

precurrent

precurse

precursive

precursor

precut

precyst

pred

Statistics for precursor

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precursor

The first known use of precursor was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for precursor

precursor

noun

English Language Learners Definition of precursor

somewhat formal : something that comes before something else and that often leads to or influences its development

precursor

noun
pre·​cur·​sor | \ pri-ˈkər-sər How to pronounce precursor (audio) , ˈprē-ˌ How to pronounce precursor (audio) \

Medical Definition of precursor

1 : one that precedes and indicates the onset of another angina may be the precursor of a second infarction
2 : a substance, cell, or cellular component from which another substance, cell, or cellular component is formed especially by natural processes

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