har·bin·ger | \ ˈhär-bən-jər
1a : something that foreshadows a future event : something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come "robins, crocuses, and other harbingers of spring"
b : one that initiates a major change : a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology :" pioneer the great legal harbinger of the New Deal revolution— Time a harbinger of nanotechnology the harbingers of peace to a hitherto distracted … people"— David Livingstone
2 archaic : a person sent ahead to provide lodgings
Did you know?
When medieval travelers needed lodging for the night, they went looking for a harbinger. As long ago as the 12th century, "harbinger" was used to mean "one who provides lodging" or "a host," but that meaning is now obsolete. By the late 1300s, "harbinger" was also being used for a person sent ahead of a main party to seek lodgings, often for royalty or a campaigning army, but that old sense has largely been left in the past, too. Both of those historical senses are true to the Anglo-French parent of "harbinger," the word herberge, meaning "lodgings." The most common sense of the word nowadays, the "forerunner" sense, has been with us since the mid-1500s.
First known use:
Middle English herbergere, from Anglo-French, host, from herberge camp, lodgings, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German heriberga