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Synonym Chooser

How is the word harbinger distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of harbinger are forerunner, herald, and precursor. While all these words mean "one that goes before or announces the coming of another," 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 forerunner be a good substitute for harbinger?

While the synonyms forerunner and harbinger are close in meaning, forerunner is applicable to anything that serves as a sign or presage.

the blockade was the forerunner of war

When could precursor be used to replace harbinger?

The meanings of precursor and harbinger largely overlap; however, 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


Thesaurus Entries Near harbinger

Cite this Entry

“Harbinger.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/harbinger. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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