A forerunner is someone or something that came before and paved the way for something today. Rotary phones were forerunners of today's complex cell phones.

The prefix fore- in forerunner is a clue that this word has to do with things that came before. A forerunner is someone from the past who preceded someone today, making new things possible. In the NBA, players like Wilt Chamberlain were forerunners of centers who played later. Early, gigantic computers were forerunners of today's sleek sophisticated computers. George Washington was a forerunner of every US president who has served since. Make sure to thank forerunners for paving the way for the rest of us slackers.

Definitions of forerunner
  1. noun
    something that precedes and indicates the approach of something or someone
    synonyms: harbinger, herald, precursor, predecessor
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    a predictor of indicator of future trends
    type of:
    indicant, indication
    something that serves to indicate or suggest
  2. noun
    anything that precedes something similar in time
    synonyms: antecedent
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    type of:
    temporal relation
    a relation involving time
  3. noun
    a person who goes before or announces the coming of another
    synonyms: precursor
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    one who precedes you in time (as in holding a position or office)
    person from an earlier time who contributed to the tradition shared by some group
    type of:
    individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul
    a human being
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