- a person or thing that precedes, as in a job, a method, etc.; predecessor.
- 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.
- 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.
- Biology. a cell or tissue that gives rise to a variant, specialized, or more mature form.
Origin of precursor
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for precursors
It might actually be that there are no precursors; that nothing like this has happened before.The Tripwire on Flight 370
March 17, 2014
While a lot more information is needed before investigators can be sure of the cause, there are precursors that suggest a pattern.Behind the Buffalo Crash
February 13, 2009
I only maintain that for me these two things are invariably the precursors of misfortune.Seen and Unseen
E. Katharine Bates
In all these signs Costal recognised the precursors of a storm.The Tiger Hunter
But it is time to mention some of the precursors of nihilism.Russia: Its People and Its Literature
Emilia Pardo Bazán
Lovel did, in fact, run a much greater risk than any of his precursors.The Antiquary, Complete
Sir Walter Scott
The "mind cure" people might adopt him as one of their precursors.Our Hundred Days in Europe
Oliver Wendell Holmes
- a person or thing that precedes and shows or announces someone or something to come; harbinger
- a predecessor or forerunner
- a chemical substance that gives rise to another more important substance
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
Word Origin and History for precursors
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- One that precedes and indicates something to come.
- One that precedes another; a forerunner or predecessor.
- 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.