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The word harbinger dates back to the 1100s, though its meaning has changed significantly. We will examine the definition of the word harbinger, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A harbinger is a forerunner of something else, a herald, a portent, a sign that something else is coming. A harbinger may signal something negative, such as a black cat crossing one’s path as a sign of impending bad luck. However, a harbinger may also signal something pleasant, such as the sighting of a robin as a signal of spring. Originally, the word harbinger, rendered as herberger, meant an innkeeper. Within about one hundred years, the term was applied to a scout who went ahead of a traveling royal retinue in order to procure lodging. By the 1700s, the term harbinger was applied to any sign that acted as a herald of things to come. The plural form is harbingers.


The recent national protests, on June 13th and March 30th, are the harbinger of a very real challenge for the Russian government. (Frontera News)

As France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe continues to fulfill his duty as the harbinger of unpopular news to shield Macron, he said he would announce reforms that may include tax breaks for the wealthy. (The Asia Times)

“Delay in the announcement of presidential election results is a harbinger for creating anxiety, confusion and violence in a deeply polarised political environment such as in Kenya,” the petition partly read. (The Standard)

Is the eight-plus-year bull market coming to an end and more pertinently is the little correction in tech stocks the harbinger of a much bigger drawdown?  (The Business Insider)