Definition of harbinger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhärbənjər/


1A person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another: witch hazels are the harbingers of spring
More example sentences
  • It's just that its call is the harbinger of spring - a signal to start chucking chlorine into the swimming pool.
  • Those welcome harbingers of Spring, daffodils, are in some sheltered sun traps starting to display buds which will soon burst into golden bloom to signal the imminent curtain call for the Winter season.
  • Here in Minnesota, we've seen some harbingers of spring too, albeit on a slower schedule - slush in the streets, dirty cars, shrinking snowpiles.
herald, sign, indication, signal, portent, omen, augury, forewarning, presage;
forerunner, precursor, messenger
literary foretoken
1.1A forerunner of something: these works were not yet opera, but they were the most important harbinger of opera
More example sentences
  • The huge rally in the bond market last Thursday, in spite of renewed dollar weakness, could be a harbinger of something very important.
  • Monday's rallies would be important only if they are a harbinger of much bigger and more confrontational demonstrations down the road.
  • Those examples of working across different media are the most important to understand, as they are the harbinger of the future.


Middle English: from Old French herbergere, from herbergier 'provide lodging for', from herberge 'lodging', from Old Saxon heriberga 'shelter for an army, lodging' (from heri 'army' + a Germanic base meaning 'fortified place'), related to harbor. The term originally denoted a person who provided lodging, later one who went ahead to find lodgings for an army or for a nobleman and his retinue, hence, a herald (mid 16th century).

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Syllabification: har·bin·ger

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