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

Keep scrolling for more

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

But Iran could interpret those strikes as a precursor to an invasion, and act accordingly. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "If the U.S. strikes Iran, what might happen next?," 21 June 2019 The couple filed a $10 million claim against the city alleging civil rights violations as a precursor to a lawsuit. CBS News, "Community meeting over Phoenix cops' confrontation with black couple gets heated," 19 June 2019 The couple has filed a notice of claim against the city for $10 million, which serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Phoenix couple who say police threatened to shoot them will speak in mayor's meeting Tuesday," 18 June 2019 Such inversions are often viewed by investors as a precursor to a recession. Allison Prang, WSJ, "Investors Shun Banks Buying Other Banks," 16 June 2019 Near the end, Shields positions Lynch as a precursor of sorts to Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem, and Russell Westbrook, who is comfortable in his sarcastic, adversarial relationship to the press. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Profound Silence of Marshawn Lynch," 14 June 2019 The 2000 miniseries from David Simon, which served as a precursor of sorts to The Wire, bests Chernobyl by a single point. Adam Epstein, Quartzy, "HBO is known for its great miniseries. Is “Chernobyl” its greatest?," 5 June 2019 There is general agreement that the recent swarm probably wasn’t a precursor to a catastrophic quake. Rong-gong Lin Ii, latimes.com, "A swarm of 1,000 earthquakes hit Southern California — how nervous should we be?," 19 June 2019 The Kahane assassination was a precursor to the wave of terror commenced by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The Supreme Court Was Right to Uphold the Dual-Sovereignty Doctrine," 19 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about precursor

Dictionary Entries near precursor

precurrent

precurse

precursive

precursor

precut

precyst

pred

Statistics for precursor

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precursor

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on precursor

What made you want to look up precursor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!