Definition of bellwether
: one that takes the lead or initiative : leader; also : an indicator of trends
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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
Childcare tax credits and paid parental leave — issues that no American Congress has ever passed, and which have become Ivanka’s signature topics, and bellwethers for her success.
That eighth-floor outpost near Grand Central Terminal could be the least flashy headquarters of any company on the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 bellwether U.S. corporations.
Heller is seen as a bellwether for how the bill is perceived across the country.
Those who hoped or feared that Tuesday night would be a bellwether for the midterm elections can either shelve their disappointment or ease up on their relief.
Attention has fallen on the race as a bellwether for what's to come in the 2018 midterm elections.
Slate breaks down the runoff for a House seat in Georgia, the most expensive Congressional race in history, which is being viewed as a bellwether for Democrats’ chances in 2018.
Yet the media hype around Ossoff, particularly as a bellwether for Democratic prospects in the 2018 midterms, was always overblown.
Georgia's 6th District lies north of Atlanta and is considered by both parties to be a bellwether for future races as partisan politics continues to roil Washington and the White House.
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 centurySee Words from the same year
Financial Definition of BELLWETHER
What It Is
A bellwether is a security or indicator that signals the market's direction.
How It Works
Let's assume XYZ Company is an auto manufacturer. If XYZ Company stock typically falls before the rest of the automotive sector falls or rises before the rest of the automotive sector rises, we could consider XYZ Company a bellwether of the auto industry.
A security's bellwether status changes over time, but in the equities markets the largest, most well-established companies in an industry are often the bellwethers (the 20-year Treasury bond is considered a bond bellwether). Usually profitable and stable, most have a solid competitive position, established customer bases and solid brand loyalty. Some have even proven to be exceptionally resilient during weak economic times. These stocks also form the foundation of most major market indices -- large-cap bellwethers dominate the Dow Jones Industrials, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite.
Why It Matters
There is a connection between bellwether status and institutional ownership. Bellwether stocks often have large institutional ownership, and institutions often have tremendous influence on stock prices. But because most mutual funds engage in some form of indexing -- most commonly by benchmarking against the S&P 500 -- those investors who don't own bellwether stocks directly probably still have exposure to them through their mutual fund holdings.
Although bellwether stocks may signal things to come, they are not always the most attractive investments in their sectors. By the time a company reaches bellwether status, its market-beating growth days are usually well behind it and its enormous size makes meaningful expansion difficult to come by. Instead, investors may consider using bellwether stocks as indicators but investing in up-and-coming bellwethers that still have plenty of growth potential ahead of them.
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
Seen and Heard
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