Word of the Day Archive
Thursday December 21, 2000
harbinger \HAR-bin-juhr\ , noun:
1. (Archaic) One who provides lodgings; especially, the officer of the English royal household who formerly preceded the court when traveling, to provide and prepare lodgings.
2. A forerunner; a precursor; one that presages or foreshadows what is to come.
1. To signal the approach of; to presage; to be a harbinger of.
Comets have been mistakenly interpreted by humans in times past as harbingers of doom, foretelling famine, plague, and destruction.
-- Walter Alvarez, T. Rex and the Crater of Doom
More than the steamboat, more than anything else, the railroads were the harbinger of the future, and the future was the Industrial Revolution.
-- Stephen E. Ambrose, Nothing Like It In the World
The airy draughts felt to him like the undoing of everything, the unfastening of ties, a harbinger of chaos.
-- Pauline Melville, The Ventriloquist's Tale
Harbinger, which originally signified a person sent ahead to arrange lodgings, derives from Middle English herbergeour, "one who supplies lodgings," from Old French herbergeor, from herbergier, "to provide lodging for," from herberge, "a lodging, an inn" (cp. modern French auberge), ultimately of Germanic origin.