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

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


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.

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Choose the Right Synonym for herald


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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These first injections herald what many hope will be the eventual sunset of the almost year-old pandemic, which has wreaked health and economic havoc across the globe. Youssef Rddad, NOLA.com, "Coronavirus vaccine's arrival in Louisiana nursing homes marks end of dark period: 'We're hopeful'," 26 Dec. 2020 Britain’s Brexit referendum in June 2016 was seen as a herald of a new populist wave that carried Trump to power a few months later, before installing Johnson as prime minister last year and powering him to an election landslide. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Boris Johnson refers to Trump as 'previous president' as most of the world moves on," 11 Nov. 2020 State leaders and activists shared a sense of validation that millions of Americans saw in the former vice president a herald of civility, professionalism and American values. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "A new president: Joy, relief sweep across Connecticut as Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump to become 46th U.S. president," 7 Nov. 2020 Could just the fact that Harrison has turned this into a race herald an imminent transformation in the South Carolina political landscape? Carol Motsinger, USA TODAY, "Jaime Harrison's run is important in South Carolina's history of Black political leadership," 4 Nov. 2020 Listen: the comet is a herald of magnificent transformation. Peter M. Leschak, Star Tribune, "Comets may be heralds of hard times, but also of revival," 31 July 2020 Bennett, the savvy urbanite, was the herald telling the city’s dark secrets; Greeley, the rustic intellectual oddball, was the tribune railing against them. James M. Lundberg, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Horace Greeley Turned Newspapers Legitimate and Saved the Media From Itself," 6 Mar. 2020 As the celestial trailblazer you, Aries, are the herald of all that is fresh, fiery and progressive. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 11 July 2020 The nameless rock-thrower was the herald of a revolution. New York Times, "Leila Slimani," 8 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The bells herald the promise that Longfellow’s pain, that our pain, will not prevail. David French, Time, "A Christmas Hymn for Our Troubled Time," 24 Dec. 2020 In the twilight of her political career, Merkel appeared eager to herald a step forward at a time when the continent is buffeted both by the rolling drama of Brexit and the economic turmoil unleashed by the pandemic. Washington Post, "Europe rallies amid crises, but its divisions show all the more," 11 Dec. 2020 Yet five days into the biggest vaccination campaign in the country's history, Trump himself has held no public events to herald the rollout or build confidence in the vaccine. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Mike Pence gets coronavirus vaccine on live TV," 18 Dec. 2020 On Saturday, the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, took to Twitter to herald the vaccine news. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Alaska in the next couple days," 13 Dec. 2020 Legend has it, the baby Jesus arrived at the stroke of midnight, and a rooster crowed to herald his birth. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "What Is Nochebuena? Everything to Know About the Christmas Eve Celebration," 4 Dec. 2020 Robert Fischman, a professor of law and public and environmental affairs at Indiana University, says Colorado’s move might herald something of a rejuvenation for conservation at the state level. Eva Botkin-kowacki, The Christian Science Monitor, "Could the job of preserving America’s wolves shift to states?," 18 Nov. 2020 Unfortunately, rather than herald a thaw in China’s hostility toward religion, persecution has increased—and not only against Catholics. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "The Silence of Pope Francis," 7 Dec. 2020 Allan’s resignation marks a dismal end to a week that was meant to herald a re-launch of Johnson’s premiership, following the departure of two of his most powerful aides, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. Joe Mayes, Bloomberg.com, "U.K. Ethics Adviser Quits After Johnson Clears Patel of Bullying," 20 Nov. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of herald


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for herald


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).


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

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Time Traveler for herald

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Herald.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/herald. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for herald


How to pronounce herald (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of herald

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a sign that something will happen
: an official messenger in the past



English Language Learners Definition of herald (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be a sign of (something that is beginning to happen or will happen soon)
: to greet (someone or something) with enthusiasm


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


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

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