Word of the Day : November 28, 2017

harbinger

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noun HAHR-bun-jer

Definition

1 : one that initiates a major change : a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology : pioneer

2 : something that foreshadows a future event : something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come

Did You Know?

When medieval travelers needed lodging for the night, they went looking for a harbinger. As long ago as the 12th century, harbinger was used to mean "one who provides lodging" or "a host," but that meaning is now obsolete. Later on, harbinger was also being used for a person sent ahead of a main party to seek lodgings, often for royalty or a campaigning army, but that old sense has largely been left in the past, too. Those sent ahead would announce the approach of who was following behind, and that's how our modern sense of harbinger (from the Anglo-French herberge, meaning "lodgings") acquired the sense with which we are familiar today, that of something which foretells a future event.



Examples

When the star running back went down with an injury in the team's first game, it turned out to be the harbinger of a disappointing season.

"A lot is riding on the results, which will be widely read as … a harbinger of the 2018 congressional midterm elections." — Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2017



Test Your Vocabulary

What two-word term begins with stormy and can refer to one fond of strife or a harbinger of trouble?

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