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One that serves as a leader or as a leading indicator of future trends: "The degree to which the paper is censored is a political bellwether" (Justine De Lacy).
[Middle English bellewether, wether with a bell hung from its neck, leader of the flock : belle, bell; see bell1 + wether, wether; see wether.]
1. (Breeds) a sheep that leads the herd, often bearing a bell
2. a leader, esp one followed unquestioningly
1. a person or thing that assumes leadership.
2. a person or thing that indicates a trend.
3. a sheep wearing a bell and leading a flock.