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Word of the Day
Friday, June 20, 2003

Definitions for bellwether

  1. a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.
  2. a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell.
  3. a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry: Paris is a bellwether of the fashion industry.

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Citations for bellwether
On balance, Doon seems a tidy, almost jejune specimen of conventional mystery fiction--hardly a bellwether of a major literary career. Ruth Rendell, From Doon with Death, 1964
The federation’s chief executive, Matthew Shay, said big shifts in consumer behavior made Black Friday weekend sales less of a bellwether for holiday spending, or for the state of the American consumer. Hiroko Tabuchi, "Black Friday Just a Day This Year, No Longer a Bellwether," New York Times, November 29, 2015
Origin of bellwether
late Middle English
Bellwether comes from the word wether meaning "a castrated male sheep." It entered English in the mid-1400s.