fore·​run·​ner | \ ˈfȯr-ˌrə-nər How to pronounce forerunner (audio) \

Definition of forerunner

1 : one that precedes and indicates the approach of another: such as
a : a premonitory sign or symptom
b : a skier who runs the course before the start of a race

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for forerunner

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

Examples of forerunner in a Sentence

a simple machine that was the forerunner of today's computers I had that strange feeling that's the forerunner of a cold.

Recent Examples on the Web

During the nineteenth century, English thinkers like J.S. Mill and George Grote worked to reimagine tumultuous Athens as a forerunner to the placid, liberal Victorian commonwealth. Nick Burns, The New Republic, "In Defense of Sparta," 7 Aug. 2019 In 1994, Dobson founded the forerunner to Amherst, and by the early 2000s, Amherst was selling $25 billion a year in MBSs to pension funds and insurers. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Meet the A.I. Landlord That’s Building a Single-Family-Home Empire," 21 June 2019 The forerunner to the Saturn V that launched astronauts to the Moon, the Saturn IB, was first used by NASA's Apollo 7 crew in 1968. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Falcon Heavy ready to fly, Stratolaunch plane put up for sale," 21 June 2019 In 1775, the Continental Army, forerunner of the United States Army, was created., "This day in history," 13 June 2019 As the obvious Democratic forerunner and with an opponent like this, Hick will be able to attract a broad base of financial backers from across the country to help him defeat Gardner. Doug Friednash, The Denver Post, "Friednash: Run for Senate, Hick," 16 Aug. 2019 For White — an Indiana native who considered a career in opera before discovering musicals at an arts academy in Michigan — the aspiration seemed limitless thanks to forerunners like McDonald. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "More actors of color are being cast in roles traditionally played by whites — while feeling extra pressure to succeed," 9 Aug. 2019 Dvir was the grandson of a prominent religious nationalist rabbi, Benjamin Herling, one of the forerunners of the settlement movement, who was killed by a Palestinian gunman near the West Bank city of Nablus in 2000. Los Angeles Times, "Hundreds attend funeral of Israeli soldier stabbed to death," 8 Aug. 2019 Also on this day: 1907: The U.S. Army Signal Corps establishes an aeronautical division, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force. Fox News, "This Day in History: August 1," 1 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of forerunner

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about forerunner

Dictionary Entries near forerunner








Statistics for forerunner

Last Updated

7 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for forerunner

The first known use of forerunner was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for forerunner



English Language Learners Definition of forerunner

: someone or something that comes before another
: a sign of something that is going to happen


fore·​run·​ner | \ ˈfȯr-ˌrə-nər How to pronounce forerunner (audio) \

Kids Definition of forerunner

: someone or something that comes before especially as a sign of the coming of another

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on forerunner

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


readily or continually undergoing change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!