harbinger » harbringer

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • But his first steps in office have shown his opponents, and the world, that he is not the harbringer of hard times for Bulgaria. (Sofia Echo, Feb 22, 2002)
  • Drinks arrived quickly and were a harbringer of what was to come—while it is difficult to screw up a soda, the coffee was mediocre and the iced tea was very weak. (RPI Polytechnic Online, Feb 19, 2003)
  • Therefore, the only harbringer of change in such a situation seems to be economic or social collapse. (The American Sentimentalist, May 6, 2003)
  • Alex Huang, UNC Asheville Atmospheric Sciences Department chair and professor, will discuss “Hurricane Season 2004: Anomaly, Cyclical Pattern, or Harbringer of Global Warming?” (UNC Asheville press release, Nov 10, 2004)
  • The truth is a dangerous thing. In the old world, the harbringer of bad news could be put to death. (Christian CADRE)

Analyzed or reported by:

Phonologically, the addition of the /r/ can be explained in terms of assimilation (both regressive and progressive). Semantically, the reshaping of “harbinger” into “-bringer” fits either of two senses of the term: a) ‘one that pioneers in or initiates a major change’, or b) ‘one that presages or foreshadows what is to come’ (as in “harbringer of bad news”). A following prepositional phrase (“…of change”, “…of bad news”, etc.) seems necessary, however.

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/04/03 |

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.