Synonym Chooser

How is the word precursor distinct from other similar nouns?

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

In what contexts can forerunner take the place of precursor?

The words forerunner and precursor are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, forerunner is applicable to anything that serves as a sign or presage.

the blockade was the forerunner of war

How are the words harbinger and herald related as synonyms of precursor?

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

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Cite this Entry

“Precursor.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

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