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

Hughes graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Commerce, the precursor of USC’s business school. Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times, "This secret donor has given USC $400 million," 5 Sep. 2019 To understand what this universal scaling phenomenon looks like, consider a vivid historical precursor of the recent discoveries. Quanta Magazine, "The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow," 1 Aug. 2019 The decline in long-term yields to below three-month Treasury bill rates created an inversion of the yield curve, a reliable precursor of recession. New York Times, "This Could Be a Rare Time When It’s Smart to Fight the Fed," 12 July 2019 The precursors of morality are there in all mammals. Sigal Samuel, Vox, "How your brain invents morality," 8 July 2019 Recent, early research has shown that stem cells can be used to form the precursors of sperm and egg cells, which can later be combined to form a new embryo. Rebecca Boyle, Discover Magazine, "The Quixotic Quest to Birth a Baby Northern White Rhino," 25 June 2019 Consider the precursor of the modern skybox that appeared in 1883 in Chicago’s Lakefront Park — 18 private viewing boxes, outfitted with upholstered armchairs and served by waiters. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "Column: These fields of dreams aren’t in Iowa cornfields," 21 June 2019 This is especially true in a gallery dedicated to the precursors of the modern museum, cabinets of curiosities. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New England museums to visit this summer and fall," 4 July 2018 Previously, scientists observed that only half of all moderate quakes had smaller precursor events. Los Angeles Times, "Scientists finally know how big earthquakes start: With many smaller ones," 20 Aug. 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

17 Sep 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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