herald

noun
her·​ald | \ ˈher-əld How to pronounce herald (audio) , ˈhe-rəld \

Essential Meaning of herald

formal
1 : a sign that something will happen The early flowers are heralds of spring.
2 : an official messenger in the past Mercury was the herald of the Roman gods.

Full Definition of herald

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an official at a tournament of arms (see arm entry 3 sense 1a) with duties including the making of announcements and the marshaling of combatants
b : an officer with the status of ambassador acting as official messenger between leaders especially in war
(2) : an officer of arms ranking above a pursuivant and below a king of arms
2 : an official crier or messenger Mercury was the gods' herald.
3a : one that precedes or foreshadows heralds of a coming storm
b : one that conveys news or proclaims : announcer it was the lark, the herald of the morn— William Shakespeare
c : one who actively promotes or advocates : exponent

herald

verb
heralded; heralding; heralds

Definition of herald (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give notice of : announce a gong used to herald the new year the approach of a cold air mass … is heralded by a shift of the wind— P. E. James
2a : to greet especially with enthusiasm : hail doctors are heralding a new drug
b : publicize a highly heralded event
3 : to signal the approach of : foreshadow The technology heralded a new age of space exploration.

Choose the Right Synonym for herald

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?

While herald the verb is more common today, herald the noun is older. When the word was first used in the early 14th century, it referred to an official at a tournament (one of those knightly sporting events the Middle Ages are famous for); the herald's duties included making announcements, hence the word's uses relating to announcements, literal and metaphorical. The word is ultimately Germanic in origin, coming from a long-lost word that can be translated as "one directing or having authority over a body of armed men," though like so many words of 14th century vintage, it came to English by way of Anglo-French. The resemblance between herald and the name Harold is not coincidental: Harold is a modern form of Chariovalda, the name of a 1st century C.E. leader of the Batavi, a tribe who lived on the lower Rhine. The Germanic source of Chariovalda, turned into a generic noun, is also the source of herald.

Examples of herald in a Sentence

Noun The early flowers are heralds of spring. Mercury was the herald of the Roman gods. Verb Rain heralds the arrival of spring. The technology heralded a new age of space exploration.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If anything, Virginia’s election results could act as an especially accurate herald about the midterms and the next presidential election. Daniel Strauss, The New Republic, 2 Nov. 2021 Execute pilots to evaluate assumptions about the future and spot weak signals that herald industry shifts. Ganes Kesari, Forbes, 26 Oct. 2021 These were mostly front-line workers who were herald at the start of the pandemic. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 For the purposes of Venom 2, Shriek can be a mutant but not necessarily a herald of X-Men to come. James Grebey, Vulture, 2 Oct. 2021 Franzen, child of Western Springs, chronicler of contemporary America, Exhibit A of the Great White Male American Novelist (circa 2021), reflexively detested, never arrives on the page now without a huff, a herald or a hand-wringing. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, 13 Oct. 2021 Lucky for Dou Dou, of course, but what does this herald for the brand of Bond? The New Yorker, 8 Oct. 2021 Diverted at first by a benign supernatural entity named Uatu the Watcher, who exists to observe the development of the human race, Galactus is betrayed by his herald, the Silver Surfer, a metallic creature nourished, like Galactus, by cosmic energy. J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, 19 Aug. 2021 Diverted at first by a benign supernatural entity named Uatu the Watcher, who exists to observe the development of the human race, Galactus is betrayed by his herald, the Silver Surfer, a metallic creature nourished, like Galactus, by cosmic energy. J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, 19 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The halftime appearance will also herald the arrival of the singer’s upcoming 14th studio album, Good Morning Gorgeous, which is slated for release on Feb. 11, two days before kickoff. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, 12 Jan. 2022 Beyond the sheer numbers, the experiences of African researchers who get their PhDs in China may herald a profound culture change for universities on the continent. Natasha Robinson, Quartz, 15 Dec. 2021 These two new alliances herald the arrival of something truly new in climate politics: how to accommodate climate policy to power. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 1 Dec. 2021 Crocuses are cheap, cheerful and offer another excuse to herald the spring with abandon, as long as the bulbs survive squirrel feasting right after planting. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2021 There had been an expectation in the market several weeks ago that the Jackson Hole speech would herald the announcement of the taper calendar in detail. George Calhoun, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 Joe Biden’s arrival in the White House nearly a year ago seemed to herald a historic shift toward less U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons and possibly a shrinking of their numbers. Robert Burns, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Jan. 2022 Justice Sotomayor’s majority opinion in Kokesh included a footnote that seemed to herald the death knell for disgorgement. The Insider, Forbes, 3 Nov. 2021 In 2021, these and six other tech companies each raised at least $100 million in different rounds to herald a new regime of ‘mega-round’ startup funding in Africa. Alexander Onukwue, Quartz, 22 Dec. 2021

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for herald

Noun

Middle English heraud, herald, harawd, borrowed from Anglo-French heraud, herald (continental Old French nominative hirauz, oblique hyraut), borrowed from Old Low Franconian *heriwalda-, from *heri- "body of armed men" (going back to Germanic *harja-) + *-walda- "one directing or having authority," noun derivative of *waldan- "to have authority over, rule" — more at harry, wield

Note: The Germanic compound noun exemplified by *heriwalda- is evident very early as a personal name, Chariovalda, a leader of the Batavi (a tribe living on the lower Rhine) mentioned by Tacitus (1st century a.d.). Later forms of the name are Hereweald (Old English) and Haraldr (Old Norse), whence the modern name Harold, and Heriwald (Old High German).

Verb

Middle English herauden "to sound the praises of," borrowed from Middle French hirauder, herauder "(of a herald) to proclaim publicly, to praise unreservedly," derivative of hiraud, heraud herald entry 1

Learn More About herald

Time Traveler for herald

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About herald

Dictionary Entries Near herald

Heraclius

herald

heraldic

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for herald

Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Herald.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/herald. Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for herald

herald

noun
her·​ald | \ ˈher-əld How to pronounce herald (audio) \

Kids Definition of herald

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an official messenger
2 : a person who brings news or announces something

herald

verb
heralded; heralding

Kids Definition of herald (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give notice of : announce
2 : foretell … in his sleep he heard the faintest sound and knew whether it heralded peace or peril.— Jack London, The Call of the Wild

More from Merriam-Webster on herald

Nglish: Translation of herald for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of herald for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about herald

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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