Definition of precursor in English:



  • 1A person or thing that comes before another of the same kind; a forerunner.

    ‘a three-stringed precursor of the violin’
    [as modifier] ‘precursor cells’
    • ‘It was an obvious precursor of today's great intermediary, money, in such forms as bank credit.’
    • ‘As the first venture develops it is the precursor of what may become a new niche in the travel industry and in holiday home real estate.’
    • ‘The clicking noise is normally a precursor of a lost/broken rivet and should be regarded as a warning sign.’
    • ‘This is a precursor of the modern Spaghetti alla carbonara, one of the most popular pasta dishes, but of obscure origin.’
    • ‘What appeals to me is that it's a precursor of Pinter and a follower of Coward.’
    • ‘Companies can be guided by key lead indicators which have historically been a precursor of a change in activity levels for their business sector.’
    • ‘This monologue dates from 1977, and it is perhaps most interesting as a precursor of the author's later and better work.’
    • ‘Hubris has most clearly set in and hubris is the precursor of the end.’
    • ‘It therefore formed a precursor of the Renaissance court.’
    • ‘Bond's preoccupation with brand names made him a precursor of the consumer society.’
    • ‘In so doing, Coram created London's first art gallery, a precursor of the Royal Academy.’
    • ‘This took place in 1922, and was a precursor of the show trials of the following decades.’
    • ‘On the one hand, alchemy is regarded as a precursor of the modern science of chemistry.’
    • ‘The pre-meal selection of chutneys is a precursor of the sharp flavours to come.’
    • ‘In the Netherlands, shared care models have acted as a precursor of the recently introduced concept of disease management.’
    forerunner, predecessor, forefather, father, parent, antecedent, ancestor, forebear, progenitor
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Biochemistry A substance from which another is formed, especially by metabolic reaction.
      ‘pepsinogen is the inactive precursor of pepsin’
      • ‘Meat contains cholesterol, a precursor to many hormones, including testosterone.’
      • ‘The plaque is an accumulation of amino acid protein precursors called A-Beta.’
      • ‘It also contains various plant steroids that serve as hormone precursors as well as vitamin B 12 and carotene.’
      • ‘It is also the precursor for sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.’
      • ‘Plant substances make precursors of human sex hormones that can be converted in the body.’


Late Middle English: from Latin praecursor, from praecurs- preceded from praecurrere, from prae beforehand + currere to run.