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
They developed code-breaking machines that were harbingers of today's computers.
But the gizmos he carries with him and the images they produce are harbingers
  of profound change.
Harbingers control share acquisition statement is available here.
The mainstream press attacked the hippies and the festivals as harbingers of
  dope, debauchery, and destruction.
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