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

This would allow the Soviet Union to get around the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibit the stockpiling of chemical weapons and precursors. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Second Novichok poisoning in Britain raises alarm, questions over contamination," 5 July 2018 This hazard most likely results from the harmful effects of this protein on insulin resistance, the precursor to Type 2 diabetes, and development of the metabolic syndrome, a complex of cardiac risk factors. New York Times, "The Dangers of Belly Fat," 11 June 2018 Twins Linus, left, and Maarten have more sweat glands and tooth precursors than their older brother Joshua, 5, after being treated with a drug in utero. Michael Nedelman, CNN, "Twins treated for genetic disorder in the womb," 18 May 2018 So Judith Miller filed a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, a possible precursor to a lawsuit against the Cook County court system. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, "Mother files complaint, says while she was at Daley Center for jury duty, staff sent her to men’s room to pump breast milk," 24 Apr. 2018 But McKenzie said Syrian forces could not have moved all the equipment and precursor chemicals necessary to produce nerve gas and other weaponized chemical agents. Tracy Wilkinson, latimes.com, "Trump declares 'Mission Accomplished!' with Syria airstrikes as Assad holds on to power," 14 Apr. 2018 While obesity is important and pressing problem, and a precursor to serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease, sedentary lifestyle is also dangerous. NBC News, "What's stopping American workers from being more active?," 17 Jan. 2018 An important precursor to Downton Abbey, Gosford Park was written by Julian Fellowes and Hollywood icon Robert Altman, who also directed. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Richard E. Grant's Oscar Nomination Is Long Overdue," 24 Feb. 2019 The young National Assembly chief, whom lawmakers chose to lead an interim presidency in a direct challenge to Mr. Maduro, has argued that political change would be a precursor to economic reforms to restore stability. Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "China Talks With Venezuela Opposition to Protect Investments," 12 Feb. 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

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Dictionary Entries near precursor

precurrent

precurse

precursive

precursor

precut

precyst

pred

Statistics for precursor

Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precursor

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

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More Definitions for precursor

precursor

noun

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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