a person who goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; herald.
anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign: Frost is a harbinger of winter.
a person sent in advance of troops, a royal train, etc., to provide or secure lodgings and other accommodations.
verb (used with object)
to act as harbinger to; herald the coming of.

1125–75; late Middle English herbenger, nasalized variant of Middle English herbegere, dissimilated variant of Old French herberg(i)ere host, equivalent to herberg(ier) to shelter (< Germanic; see harbor) + -iere -er2

2. herald, forerunner, precursor, portent, indication.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
harbinger (ˈhɑːbɪndʒə)
1.  a person or thing that announces or indicates the approach of something; forerunner
2.  obsolete a person sent in advance of a royal party or army to obtain lodgings for them
3.  (tr) to announce the approach or arrival of
[C12: from Old French herbergere, from herberge lodging, from Old Saxon heriberga; compare Old High German heriberga army shelter; see harry, borough]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1471, herbengar "one sent ahead to arrange lodgings" (for a monarch, an army, etc.), alt. of M.E. herberger "provider of shelter, innkeeper" (c.1175), from O.Fr. herbergeor, from herbergier "provide lodging," from herber "lodging, shelter," from Frank. *heriberga "lodging, inn" (cf. O.S., O.H.G. heriberga
"army shelter," from heri "army" + berga "shelter"); see harbor. Sense of "forerunner" is 1550. Intrusive -n- is 15c. (see messenger).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Oil prices are seen as an indication of current inflation, and gold prices a
  harbinger of future inflation.
Another harbinger of spring on Mars is huge dust storms that sweep across the
Saturday night's affair is the harbinger of things to come.
Well, I would say the insomnia was the harbinger of an official funk.
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