June 02, 2018
bellwether (noun)
\BEL-WEH-ther\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: someone or something that leads the way or points out a trend
How do you use it?
Jada was the school's fashion bellwether, and it was a sure thing that if she wore a style on Monday, the whole school would be wearing it by Friday.
Are you a word wiz?

A "bellwether" is someone who leads. Who do you think was a prominent leader around the time "bellwether" came into use?

When "bellwether" was first used in the 1200s, it didn't conjure images of leaders like Genghis Khan conquering nations. Instead, it conjured images of sheep. That's because the word "wether" means "a male sheep." Flocks of sheep can be disorderly and hard to lead, so shepherds used to put a bell on the leader of the flock, usually a wether. "Bellwether" originally referred to this belled sheep. Because the bellwether was also the leader, the word "bellwether" soon came to be used for a leader, whether a sheep or not.
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