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 Typically, such low giveaway numbers would be a harbinger of a team playing well. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "Rudy Gay says his shooting woes are “all mental”," 8 Feb. 2020 Carol Donovan, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, agreed that the primary could be a harbinger of what’s at stake in November. Dallas News, "With Super Tuesday primaries looming, Democratic presidential hopefuls step up their Texas outreach," 12 Jan. 2020 And this was not the only harbinger of things to come. SI.com, "Barcelona 6-1 PSG: Remembering That Mad Midweek Miracle at Camp Nou," 30 Oct. 2019 The Warriors fell behind 14-0, a harbinger of the difficult evening to come. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Golden State Warriors open plush Chase Center looking like underdogs," 24 Oct. 2019 But all said and done, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew doesn't seem likely to unseat the PSL as the unofficial harbinger of fall for pumpkin spice lovers everywhere. Lauren Saria, azcentral, "Here's what the new Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew really tastes like," 27 Aug. 2019 These strangers seeking help are the harbinger of the coming global tide of climate refugees. Luis Alberto Urrea, Time, "The Shame of the Border Crisis Will Never Leave Us," 2 Aug. 2019 Adding to the worries, the spike occurred in the low season, when viral transmission subsides—a harbinger of worse to come in the second half of the year. Leslie Roberts, Science | AAAS, "Surging cases have dashed all hope that polio might be eradicated in 2019," 10 July 2019 The future on display Although Goodwood is more usually associated with historic and classic cars, the ID R wasn't the only harbinger of the future. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "VW’s crazy electric car breaks F1 record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed," 8 July 2019

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

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Harbinger.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harbinger?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=h&file=harbin01. Accessed 20 Feb. 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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