Word of the DaySunday, March 26, 2006
\BEL-weth-uhr\ , noun;
A leader of a movement or activity; also, a leading indicator of future trends.
Raised to believe they were among their generation's best and brightest, my class can be seen as a bellwether for a generation caught without a compass on the cutting edge of uncharted territory.
-- Elizabeth Fishel, Reunion: The Girls We Used to Be, the Women We Became
Before that election, Maine's proud citizens had fancied their state to be a sort of bellwether, a notion embodied in the saying "As Maine goes, so goes the nation."
-- Robert Shogan, The Fate of the Union
Bellwether is a compound of bell and wether, "a male sheep, usually castrated"; from the practice of hanging a bell from the neck of the leader of the flock.
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