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[pri-kur-ser, pree-kur-] /prɪˈkɜr sər, ˈpri kɜr-/
a person or thing that precedes, as in a job, a method, etc.; predecessor.
a person, animal, or thing that goes before and indicates the approach of someone or something else; harbinger:
The first robin is a precursor of spring.
Chemistry, Biochemistry. a chemical that is transformed into another compound, as in the course of a chemical reaction, and therefore precedes that compound in the synthetic pathway:
Cholesterol is a precursor of testosterone.
Biology. a cell or tissue that gives rise to a variant, specialized, or more mature form.
Origin of precursor
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin praecursor forerunner. See pre-, cursor
1. forerunner. 2. herald. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for precursor
  • Pumping harder, it drives up the blood pressure, a precursor of trouble.
  • Mabe it was a precursor to a disconnect that luckily didn't go through.
  • There is some kind of precursor chemistry that had to take place.
  • It is well known as the precursor of stormy weather.
  • In the words of a most distinguished judge, uttered just a decade ago, "lawlessness if not checked is the precursor of anarchy.
  • Mild cognitive impairment is thought to be a precursor for Alzheimer's.
  • His brilliant play with light and color shows him as a precursor of modern art.
  • There are a number of precursor and warning signs available.
  • But as any short-seller will tell you, being lonely is just the precursor to being right.
  • After all, a rapid military victory was seen as a precursor to lower oil prices and higher consumer confidence.
British Dictionary definitions for precursor


a person or thing that precedes and shows or announces someone or something to come; harbinger
a predecessor or forerunner
a chemical substance that gives rise to another more important substance
Word Origin
C16: from Latin praecursor one who runs in front, from praecurrere, from prae in front + currere to run
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for precursor

early 15c., from Middle French precurseur and directly from Latin praecursor "forerunner," agent noun from past participle stem of praecurrere, from prae "before" (see pre-) + currere "to run" (see current (adj.)). Related: Precursory.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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precursor in Medicine

precursor pre·cur·sor (prĭ-kûr'sər, prē'kûr'sər)

  1. One that precedes and indicates something to come.

  2. One that precedes another; a forerunner or predecessor.

  3. A biochemical substance, such as an intermediate compound in a chain of enzymatic reactions, that gives rise to a more stable or definitive product.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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