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a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell.
a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry:
Paris is a bellwether of the fashion industry.
a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.
a person who leads a mob, mutiny, conspiracy, or the like; ringleader.
Contemporary Examples

Walmart Customers Have Disappeared. Will They Take the Economy With Them? Megan McArdle February 18, 2013
Despite Obama’s Policies, The Rust Belt’s Revival Could Save His Campaign Joel Kotkin June 24, 2012
Obamaville Don Rose November 5, 2008
A Novelist’s Biracial Struggle John Douglas Marshall March 11, 2010
The Next Wave of Jihadists Reuel Marc Gerecht March 10, 2010

Historical Examples

The Adventures of the Eleven Cuff-Buttons James Francis Thierry
Introduction to the Science of Sociology Robert E. Park
The Champagne Standard Mrs. John Lane
Bonaparte in Egypt and the Egyptians of To-day Haji A. Browne
Assassin Jesse Franklin Bone

a sheep that leads the herd, often bearing a bell
a leader, esp one followed unquestioningly
Word Origin


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  • Bell-ringer

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