from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that precedes and indicates, suggests, or announces someone or something to come: Colonial opposition to unfair taxation by the British was a precursor of the Revolution.
  • n. One that precedes another; a forerunner or predecessor: The new principal's precursor was an eminent educator.
  • n. A biochemical substance, such as an intermediate compound in a chain of enzymatic reactions, from which a more stable or definitive product is formed: a precursor of insulin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That which precurses, a forerunner, a predecessor, an indicator of approaching events.
  • n. One of the compounds that participates in the chemical reaction that produces another compound.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who, or that which, precedes an event, and indicates its approach; a forerunner; a harbinger.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A forerunner; also, that which precedes an event and indicates its approach.
  • n. Synonyms Predecessor, herald, omen, sign.
  • n. Specifically, in the history of the fine arts, an early artist of a school or period, or an artist who preceded such a school or period. The precursors of the Renaissance in Italy are the sculptors and painters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. such as Niccola Pisano, Giotto, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something that precedes and indicates the approach of something or someone
  • n. a substance from which another substance is formed (especially by a metabolic reaction)
  • n. a person who goes before or announces the coming of another


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English precursoure, from Old French precurseur, from Latin praecursor, from praecursus, past participle of praecurrere, to run before : prae-, pre- + currere, to run.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin praecursor ("forerunner")


  • Yet in precisely this jostling of succession, that wintry decline and fall of the precursor is already redeemed by the previous linear drop, despite the attempted brake of the exclamation mark.

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  • For instance if certain precursor components are too large, too small, too weak, have too much torque, don't fit well with others, then you can't just tweak it for a fix.

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  • In all this, the great precursor is the strongly drawn King Dahfu in Henderson the Rain King, who makes splendid use of his secondhand English when addressing his massive and worried American guest as follows:

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  • Requirements relating to the largest exporting and importing countries of certain precursor chemicals.

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  • Then up, straight up, the deviation of a fraction of an inch being a certain precursor of disaster, the snowshoe must be lifted till the surface is cleared; then forward, down, and the other foot is raised perpendicularly for the matter of half a yard.

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  • One bit of junk can be especially troubling - a tiny, soluble molecule he describes as a precursor to amyloid beta, a protein fragment and the notorious sticky building-block of brain plaques.

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  • 5-HTP is a serotonin precursor similar to Tryptophan, a product banned by the FDA when it was found to contain contaminants.

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  • While Hollywood is gearing up for the Golden Globes on January 15th also known as the precursor to its version of the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the political world, or "Hollywood for ugly people" as it is sometimes jokingly called, is gearing up for its own Golden Globes: the first presidential primaries, before its own Super Bowl next November.

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  • Vishu Sharma's "Kaulik & the Princess": This actually should be called a precursor to science fiction rather than genre proper; original is Sanskrit from about 200 BC, but link goes to an English translation.

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  • Mr. Lang's next film, "You Only Live Once" (1937), has been called a precursor to Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierrot le Fou" (1965) and Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967).

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