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

Believe it or not, this stretch of the Delaware was a popular resort area for Philadelphians back then, a precursor to the Jersey Shore. Inga Saffron, https://www.inquirer.com, "This building on the Delaware River saved immigrant lives for 95 years. Now it’s been rescued by Tinicum Twp. | Inga Saffron," 4 June 2019 The Hawthorne test tunnel is a precursor to several tunnels that The Boring Company may build in Los Angeles and beyond. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk tweets a date for the opening of his first Los Angeles tunnel," 22 Oct. 2018 But by then, the alliance between French parties beholden to Moscow and nationalists skeptical of the European project (and of ties with America) was simply too strong—a precursor of sorts to political dynamics in Europe today. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "Is Europe Ready to Defend Itself?," 4 Jan. 2019 This Callisto project aims to eventually test its rocket up to an altitude of 50 meters and may (or may not) be a precursor to European development of a reusable rocket. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Scotland’s NIMBY problem, SpaceX test firing, Soyuz mishap," 2 Nov. 2018 The incident on the trail was, unfortunately, just a precursor of what was to come. Polo Tate, Marie Claire, "Sexual Assault in the Military: One Woman's True Story," 8 Aug. 2018 Many economists view wage growth as a precursor to broader inflation pressures, but recent data showed consumer-price gains are cooling. Eric Morath, WSJ, "Workers’ Pay Rises at Fastest Rate in a Decade," 31 Oct. 2018 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

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

9 Jun 2019

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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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