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precursor

[pri-kur-ser, pree-kur-] /prɪˈkɜr sər, ˈpri kɜr-/
noun
1.
a person or thing that precedes, as in a job, a method, etc.; predecessor.
2.
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.
3.
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.
4.
Biology. a cell or tissue that gives rise to a variant, specialized, or more mature form.
Origin
late Middle English
1375-1425
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin praecursor forerunner. See pre-, cursor
Synonyms
1. forerunner. 2. herald.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for precursors
  • Native peoples invented precursors to all these and made huge strides in medicine and agriculture.
  • Most disappointing to scientists was the lack of any precursors.
  • Their successor has a tougher task: to search for the molecules that are precursors to life and for evidence of microbes at work.
  • While some are simply precursors to actual cars, others showcase a new technology, such as a diesel or electric powerplant.
  • Typically, they cause the four chemical precursors to undergo oxidation.
  • In an adult, all that remains of those precursors are so-called adult stem cells that replenish mature cells within a tissue.
  • The resins are the precursors of the bitterness in the beer, the oils provide aroma.
  • There are a few obvious precursors to flushing failure.
  • They're easy to make fun of and easy to accept as our precursors.
  • The amuses, the gratis precursors of the main meal, engage and excite.
British Dictionary definitions for precursors

precursor

/prɪˈkɜːsə/
noun
1.
a person or thing that precedes and shows or announces someone or something to come; harbinger
2.
a predecessor or forerunner
3.
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 precursors

precursor

n.

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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precursors in Medicine

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

  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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