Definition of bellwether
: one that takes the lead or initiative : leader; also : an indicator of trends
bellwether was our Word of the Day on 06/10/2015. Hear the podcast!
Examples of bellwether in a Sentence
She is a bellwether of fashion.
High-tech bellwethers led the decline in the stock market.
a county that is a bellwether in national elections
Recent Examples of bellwether from the Web
The gruesome violence cast a shadow on elections in four states on Sunday, seen as a bellwether for next year’s presidential vote.
The vote is a bellwether of national politics ahead of general elections in 2018 as Hun Sen seeks to sustain his three decades of dominance.
Their win could represent a political bellwether or forecast a trend for the next election.
Gianforte has not apologized for the incident, which upended the race considered by many to be a bellwether for Republicans' political chances in the era of Trump.
Meanwhile, within much of the art world the project was interpreted as a political bellwether.
Starbucks’ partnership with Square, headed by Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey, is the most prominent deal inked by the mobile-payment startup so far, and has the makings of a bellwether for the pay-with-your-smartphone future.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bellwether'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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
BELLWETHER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of bellwether for English Language Learners
: someone or something that leads others or shows what will happen in the future
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