harbinger

noun
har·​bin·​ger | \ ˈhär-bən-jər \

Definition of harbinger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : a person sent ahead to provide lodgings
2a : one that initiates a major change : a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology : pioneer the great legal harbinger of the New Deal revolution— Time a harbinger of nanotechnology the harbingers of peace to a hitherto distracted … people— David Livingstone
b : something that foreshadows a future event : something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come robins, crocuses, and other harbingers of spring

harbinger

verb
harbingered; harbingering; harbingers

Definition of harbinger (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give a warning or prediction of : to be a harbinger (see harbinger entry 1) of harbingered the fall of Rome

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Choose the Right Synonym for harbinger

Noun

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

Did You Know?

Noun

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.

Examples of harbinger in a Sentence

Noun

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

Verb

the hope that the housing slump does not harbinger a general economic recession

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Undoubtedly, the pop-up was a harbinger of the Uco Valley’s growing culinary momentum. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, "Itinerary: Wine Tasting in Argentina's Uco Valley," 11 Sep. 2018 To them, eclipses were a harbinger of danger — quite specifically, the apocalypse. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner's Guide to Eclipses in 2018 and How They Can Affect Your Life," 16 July 2018 After years of getting blamed as the harbingers a the never-ending national culture war, the gaming community seems relieved to have someone who represents the hobby positively — for the most part. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "In 2018, Ninja became Twitch’s first mainstream star," 20 Dec. 2018 Security experts consider the tactic a harbinger of a more sophisticated kind of digital warfare, one that Facebook and others might be ill-equipped to combat. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "If the 2018 Election Is Hacked, This Is How It Will Happen," 5 Nov. 2018 Not to mention, can act as harbinger for action if there’s a more serious condition at hand. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Why Every 20-Something Should Know More About Their Hormones—and Their Body," 25 Oct. 2018 Paul’s Hardware looked at an early version of the kit: Some people will love the look of the Lian Li Strimer, while others will herald it as yet another harbinger of the RGB apocalypse. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "The Lian Li Strimer infuses your PC's power connector cable with customizable RGB lights," 4 June 2018 The decline in job creation by new enterprises could be a worrisome harbinger for the economy. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Start-ups are growing again, but with fewer jobs than before recession," 16 Apr. 2018 The two have also won the 2017 Japan Prize (which earned them $420,000 each), the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (a hefty $3 million prize), and other awards that are considered harbingers of a possible Nobel. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "Science Prizes Add Intrigue to the Race for the Nobel," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harbinger.' 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 harbinger

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1646, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for harbinger

Noun and Verb

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

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Dictionary Entries near harbinger

Haratin

Harbach

Harbin

harbinger

harbinger-of-spring

harbor

harborage

Statistics for harbinger

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for harbinger

The first known use of harbinger was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for harbinger

harbinger

noun

English Language Learners Definition of harbinger

: something that shows what is coming

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