forerunner

Synonym Chooser

How is the word forerunner distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of forerunner are harbinger, herald, and precursor. While all these words 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

How do harbinger and herald relate to one another, in the sense of forerunner?

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

When would precursor be a good substitute for forerunner?

The synonyms precursor and forerunner are sometimes interchangeable, but 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

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Cite this Entry

“Forerunner.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/forerunner. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

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