Why was clemency trending last week?


[bel-weth-er] /ˈbɛlˌwɛð ər/
a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell.
a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry:
Paris is a bellwether of the fashion industry.
a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.
a person who leads a mob, mutiny, conspiracy, or the like; ringleader.
Origin of bellwether
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see bell1, wether
2. leader, pacesetter, frontrunner, trailblazer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for bellwether
  • Turner's victory should not be seen as a bellwether.
  • Other college leaders are not so enthusiastic about using the labor market as a bellwether of college quality.
  • Ignoring this data in favour of profit margins makes your comment a bellwether of the extinction of mankind.
  • Experts said the failure was likely due to a poorly run operation and was not an industry bellwether.
  • For higher education, this new gig may or may not be a bellwether.
  • FedEx is considered a bellwether of economic activity.
  • The elections were also seen as a bellwether for similar efforts within the industry to unionize.
  • Where a country buries its dead is a bellwether of political life and social fabric.
  • Temporary staffing is often a bellwether of employment.
  • When push comes to shove, the bellwether of state-capitalist decisions will be political in nature and suboptimal economically.
British Dictionary definitions for bellwether


a sheep that leads the herd, often bearing a bell
a leader, esp one followed unquestioningly
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
Cite This Source
Contemporary definitions for bellwether

a belled male sheep

Word Origin

Middle English belle 'bell' + wether 'castrated male sheep''s 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for bellwether

mid-14c. (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin; late 12c. as a surname), from bell (n.) + wether; the lead sheep (on whose neck a bell was hung) of a domesticated flock. Figurative sense of "chief, leader" is from mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for bellwether

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for bellwether

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for bellwether