“In many movies and books, a black cat is considered a harbinger of doom.”

Based on the information above, what is the best definition of harbinger?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Something that follows bad things
Choice B - A misunderstood creature or person
Choice C - A sign of something that is to come
Choice D - Pertaining to the weather


Harbinger (noun) –  a sign of what is to come; a foreshadower of a future event; or, one that goes before to announce the coming of another

Harbinger (verb) – to be a harbinger; or, to predict or warn

GRE pro tips:

The word harbinger comes from the Old French herbengar, which translates as “one sent ahead to arrange lodgings” (like for a monarch or an army). You can imagine the necessity of having advance notice for such events. In modern language, a harbinger signals, or foreshadows, what is to come. It can also be used as a verb, so it’s possible for a harbinger to harbinger what will come.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone refer to something as a harbinger of spring or a harbinger of doom. Both sayings indicate that some event is forthcoming – good or bad. For example, the sighting of a robin harbingers the arrival of spring while the sighting of a black cat harbingers something ominous will transpire.

Example sentences:

“The sun bursting through the clouds was a harbinger of hope, as the team fought their way to a come-from-behind victory.”  

“Since a groundhog hibernates for winter, its emergence from the ground harbingers the coming of spring.”