harbinger

noun
har·​bin·​ger | \ ˈhär-bən-jər How to pronounce harbinger (audio) \

Definition of harbinger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something that foreshadows a future event : something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come robins, crocuses, and other harbingers of spring
b : 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
2 archaic : a person sent ahead to provide lodgings

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 As teachers learned about state leaders pushing to reopen, Nations’ close-to-home experience seemed to be a harbinger of the dangers that reopening poses. Ryan Mckinnon And Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "'Scared for my life,' but needing a salary: Teachers weigh risks as COVID-19 looms," 10 July 2020 Leaving Hong Kong may help TikTok to avoid further scrutiny, but the departure could also be a harbinger of what could happen to many tech platforms that currently operate there. Louise Matsakis, Wired, "Hong Kong's Security Law Puts Big Tech at a Crossroads," 8 July 2020 Neutrino research has been a harbinger of exciting new developments in physics since the first neutrinos were discovered in 1956 by our Los Alamos predecessors Frederick Reines and Clyde Cowan. William Charles Louis, Scientific American, "Hidden Neutrino Particles May Be a Link to the Dark Sector," 1 July 2020 In January 2020, a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse was a harbinger of change. refinery29.com, "Astrology Predicted The 2020 Revolution. Here’s What’s Coming Next," 24 June 2020 Perhaps welcome harbinger for Tap It to Win, who led out of the gates and seemed poised to give trainer Mark Casse a third straight Triple Crown race victory. Jake Einer, The Courier-Journal, "New York-bred Tiz the Law wins barren Belmont Stakes," 20 June 2020 As New York protesters calling for police reform continue to fill the streets, one harbinger of their political impact will be the Democratic primary for district attorney in Albany County. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "District Attorney Race Tests Sway of New York Police-Reform Protesters," 14 June 2020 The bird, while it can be considered a harbinger of ecological changes to come, is improving the ecological prospects of its home merely by being popular. Alexandra Ossola, Quartz, "To save a nearly extinct bird, Colombians are rethinking one of their biggest economic engines," 13 June 2020 In what could be a harbinger of things to come, melting permafrost inside the Arctic Circle in Russia caused a fuel tank to topple, spilling 21,000 tons of diesel over 135 square miles and into the Ambarnaya and Daldykan rivers. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "Climate Point: Russia spills oil in the Arctic; fossil fuels are labeled 'white supremacy'," 12 June 2020

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 2

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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Time Traveler for harbinger

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

21 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Harbinger.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harbinger. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for harbinger

harbinger

noun
How to pronounce harbinger (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of harbinger

: something that shows what is coming

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