precursor

noun
pre·​cur·​sor | \ pri-ˈkər-sər How to pronounce precursor (audio) , ˈprē-ˌkər- How to pronounce precursor (audio) \

Definition of precursor

1a : one that precedes and indicates the approach of another
2 : a substance, cell, or cellular component from which another substance, cell, or cellular component is formed

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Other Words from precursor

precursory \ pri-​ˈkərs-​rē How to pronounce precursory (audio) , -​ˈkər-​sə-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for precursor

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

Precursor Has Latin Roots

With its prefix pre-, meaning "before", a precursor is literally a "forerunner", and in fact forerunner first appeared as the translation of the Latin praecursor. But the two words function a little differently today. A forerunner may simply come before another thing, but a precursor generally paves the way for something. So, for example, the Office of Strategic Services in World War II was the immediate precursor of today's Central Intelligence Agency, while the blues music of the 1930s and 1940s was only one of the precursors of the rock and roll of today.

Examples of precursor in a Sentence

18th-century lyric poets like Robert Burns were precursors of the Romantics a precursor of the modern eggplant
Recent Examples on the Web In fact, Sandoval had a much better 2011 and was a starter in the 2012 All-Star Game, a precursor to Game 1 of the World Series. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Memorable moments: Giants’ Pablo Sandoval hits 3 HR in World Series game," 27 Dec. 2019 Gerwig: Then the peak of method acting was when everyone got strep throat, the precursor to scarlet fever. Stacey Wilson Hunt, Fortune, "‘Little Women’ Director Greta Gerwig and Cast Reveal How They Reinvented a Feminist Classic," 20 Dec. 2019 Standing upright could be a precursor to bipedal walking, so the authors suggest that this means Danuvius could have been like our last shared ancestor with other apes. Vivien Shaw, Quartz, "Scientists want to rewrite the evolution of walking—but should they?," 14 Dec. 2019 This was the precursor to my current heroin beat, in 2012 and 2013. cincinnati.com, "Covering the opioid epidemic: Despair and bravery, helplessness, iron will and way too much death," 12 Dec. 2019 The Kemp’s ridley was listed under the under the U.S. Endangered Species Conservation Act, a precursor to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, in 1970. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Why Do ‘Cold-Shocked’ Sea Turtles Keep Washing Up Onto Cape Cod?," 11 Dec. 2019 Child Protective Services, the precursor to DCS, had removed the boys from their mother and placed them with various relatives. Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, "'Life would have been a lot simpler': He thought adopting grandkids would save them. He spent years trying," 4 Dec. 2019 The family has filed a claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against Sanchez and the Los Angeles Police Department. Washington Post, "Off-duty officer won’t be charged in deadly Costco shooting," 25 Sep. 2019 The family has filed a claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against Sanchez and the Los Angeles Police Department. Stefanie Dazio, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Off-duty officer won’t be charged in deadly Costco shooting," 25 Sep. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for precursor

Middle English precursoure, from Latin praecursor, from praecurrere to run before, from prae- pre- + currere to run — more at current entry 1

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Time Traveler for precursor

Time Traveler

The first known use of precursor was in the 15th century

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Statistics for precursor

Last Updated

6 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precursor.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/precursor. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for precursor

precursor

noun
How to pronounce precursor (audio) How to pronounce precursor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of precursor

somewhat formal : something that comes before something else and that often leads to or influences its development

precursor

noun
pre·​cur·​sor | \ pri-ˈkər-sər How to pronounce precursor (audio) , ˈprē-ˌ How to pronounce precursor (audio) \

Medical Definition of precursor

1 : one that precedes and indicates the onset of another angina may be the precursor of a second infarction
2 : a substance, cell, or cellular component from which another substance, cell, or cellular component is formed especially by natural processes

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Comments on precursor

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