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

  • n. One that indicates or foreshadows what is to come; a forerunner.
  • transitive v. To signal the approach of; presage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person or thing that foreshadows or foretells the coming of someone or something.
  • v. To announce; to be a harbinger of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who provides lodgings; especially, the officer of the English royal household who formerly preceded the court when traveling, to provide and prepare lodgings.
  • n. A forerunner; a precursor; a messenger.
  • transitive v. To usher in; to be a harbinger of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who provides or secures lodging for another; specifically, a royal officer who rode a day's journey in advance of the court when traveling, to provide lodgings and other accommodations.
  • n. One who or that which precedes and gives notice of the coming of some other person or thing; a forerunner; a precursor.
  • To precede; act as a harbinger to; serve as an omen or indication of; presage; announce.

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

  • n. something that precedes and indicates the approach of something or someone
  • v. foreshadow or presage


Middle English herbengar, person sent ahead to arrange lodgings, from Old French herbergeor, from herbergier, to provide lodging for, from herberge, lodging, of Germanic origin; see koro- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally, a person that is sent in advance to provide lodgings. From Middle English herbergeour, from Old French herbergeor ( > French héberger ("to accommodate, put up")), from Frankish *heriberga ("lodging, inn", literally "army shelter"), from Proto-Germanic *harjaz (“army”) + *bergô (“protection”). Compare German Herberge, Italian albergo, Dutch herberg, English harbour. More at here, borrow. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • The fame anon thurgh toun is born
    How Alla kyng shal comen on pilgrymage,
    By herbergeours that wenten hym biforn

    - Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Man of Law's Tale', 1386.

    Rendering in modern English:
    The news through all the town was carried,
    How King Alla would come on pilgrimage,
    By harbingers that went before him.

    December 11, 2008

  • I used to think the same thing, then I heard it pronounced and fell in love with it all over again. It's all about the soft "g" as in "HAR bin jer." It's fun on totally different grounds.

    May 25, 2007

  • I don't care for this word because I always think it should be "harbringer".

    May 25, 2007