her·​ald | \ˈher-əld, 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

c(1) : officer of arms

(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

Did You Know?


The exact origin of "herald" is uncertain, but it is thought to derive from Germanic roots. Specifically, etymologists believe that "herald" developed from an assumed Frankish compound whose first component is akin to the Old High German heri-, meaning "army," and whose second component is akin to the Old High German word waltan, meaning "to rule." When "herald" first appeared on the scene in the 14th century, it referred to an official at a tournament of arms whose duties included the making of announcements. The verb forms, extending the "announcement" idea, soon followed.

Examples of herald in a Sentence


The early flowers are heralds of spring. Mercury was the herald of the Roman gods.


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

By next January, that number could change. ___ MAKING HISTORY The night could witness a generational change in Congress and herald in a number of barrier-breaking officeholders. Ken Thomas, The Seattle Times, "WHAT TO WATCH: After turbulent campaign, it’s up to voters," 7 Nov. 2018 Müller’s success in a modern 4-2-3-1 formation was the herald of a new generation. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 1 Day to Go - Germany's Mild-Mannered Goal Machine, Miroslav Klose," 13 June 2018 Months ago, its heralds announced that electric scooters had overtaken cities across California. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "Electric Scooters Are the Cargo Shorts of Transportation," 31 May 2018 Image To most people, the buds and sprouts of April are welcome heralds of spring. Zach Montague, New York Times, "Lanternflies Eat Everything in Sight. The U.S. Is Looking Delicious.," 21 May 2018 Tulane also stated its commencement will feature live jazz, herald trumpets, confetti cannons and a second-line procession. Wilborn P. Nobles Iii, NOLA.com, "Steve Gleason among 4 to receive honorary Tulane degree," 7 May 2018 But now that season arrives like a presciently timed herald of the #MeToo-Time’s Up revolution, with 13 female directors and 9 of 13 episodes written or co-written by women. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: ‘Jessica Jones’ Returns, Well Timed for the Time’s Up Moment," 7 Mar. 2018 Still, Atwell thinks the author was a herald of social change. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Hayley Atwell Found Herself in One of Literature’s Greatest Heroines," 30 Apr. 2018 Accompanying the ball Captain were his heralds, Misses Rayven Payton and Rayion Payton. Sue Strachan, NOLA.com, "Original Illinois Club Carnival Ball 2018 honors heritage," 12 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Gone were the California beauty's colorful crimped extensions and playful nail art and in its place, long brushed out waves and bare manicured hands—all the better to hold her mini Chanel bag with—that heralded a new era of Miley. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Miley Cyrus Takes a Beauty Page From the Kate Middleton Playbook in London," 5 Dec. 2018 Of course, you might be used to this pain heralding your period’s arrival every month. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "Is Your Chest Pain Physical or Mental?," 14 Nov. 2018 Starbucks is making headlines everywhere for dropping its famous Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) — *gasp!* — the week before Labor Day, thus heralding the onset of fall well before Mother Nature intended. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "You Can Now Buy Pumpkin Spice Latte Kids' Toys," 29 Aug. 2018 The launchpad’s history reflects the highs and lows of the U.S. space program, and its rebirth heralds a promising but very new future. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Cape Canaveral's Legendary Launchpad Is Ready for Astronauts Once More," 16 Aug. 2018 Buy Photo African, Reggae, Caribbean, and R&B music played by marching and steel bands and contemporary ensembles heralded the arrival of the Juneteenth Day Parade and Festival in Philadelphia Saturday. Mensah M. Dean, Philly.com, "'We finally have our own holiday.' Slavery's end celebrated with Juneteenth Day festivities," 23 June 2018 Today a partisan war broke out over what a video of that incident really showed — and in so doing, seemed to herald the arrival of an era in which manipulated videos further erode the boundaries between truth and fiction. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The fake video era of US politics has arrived on Twitter," 9 Nov. 2018 The population in southwestern Iran where the attackers seemed to herald from, is predominantly Shia, which has been targeted in sectarian attacks by Islamic State. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Separatists Launch Deadly Attack on Iranian Military Parade," 22 Sep. 2018 The nasty wakeup call heralding that the rural dream is over most for residents usually comes from a developer building a subdivision next door, not from the St. Johns River Water Management District. Lauren Ritchie, OrlandoSentinel.com, "St. Johns water district planning five years of sand-hauling for Lake Norris area residents," 2 July 2018

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, from Anglo-French heraud, herald, from Frankish *heriwald-, literally, leader of an armed force, from *heri- army + *wald- rule; akin to Old High German heri- army, waltan to rule — more at harry, wield


see herald entry 1

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Statistics for herald

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for herald

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

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More Definitions for herald



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 \

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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a knickknack or trinket

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