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

Until just a few years ago, the major problem in searching for fossils of turtle precursors was that paleontologists could not easily imagine what something on the way to becoming a turtle might look like. Hans-dieter Sues, Smithsonian, "How the Turtle Got Its Shell, With Apologies to Aesop," 20 Aug. 2019 Also at Hemphill are fine abstractions by such contemporary local painters as Ryan Crotty, Steve Cushner, Robin Rose and Julie Wolfe, interspersed with the work of color-field precursors including Thomas Downing, Paul Reed and Alma Woodsey Thomas. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Artechouse’s ‘Infinite Space’ has waves of natural influences," 9 Aug. 2019 MeerKAT is one of the two precursors to a much bigger future radio observatory—the SKA, or Square Kilometer Array. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "An Alien-Hunting Tech Mogul May Help Solve a Space Mystery," 21 July 2019 The vehicle is scheduled to perform the test next year as one of the precursors to the moon landing, a mission estimated to cost a total of $20-30 billion. Chabeli Herrera, orlandosentinel.com, "Vice President Pence looks to NASA’s future as he honors Apollo 11 crew," 20 July 2019 According to Atlas Obscura, some of these turkeys even wore leather booties, a sort of ornithological precursor to Nikes. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "Thanksgiving is now the most popular race day in America.," 20 Nov. 2018 The weekend cooldown is a precursor to what is expected for the rest of the week, Rowe said. Sarah Ravani, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area starts to cool down this weekend," 14 Sep. 2019 In Senegal, which is widely considered to be the motherland of Jollof rice, nationals enjoys Thieboudienne, a broken-rice meal believed to be a precursor to the dish. Haleluya Hadero, Quartz Africa, "How Jollof rice became West Africa’s iconic dish and a point of banter between Africans," 23 Aug. 2019 Armstrong was part of the crew of Gemini 8, one in a series of missions that were a precursor to Apollo. Emma Ruby, Dallas News, "UT-Dallas celebrates personal ties with NASA 50 years after 'one small step for man'," 20 July 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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Learn More about precursor

Dictionary Entries near precursor

precurrent

precurse

precursive

precursor

precut

precyst

pred

Statistics for precursor

Last Updated

13 Oct 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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