What Does the Word “Bellwether” Mean and Where Did the Term For a Leader of a Trend Originate?

The metaphorical use of bellwether to mean a human leader dates back to the fifteenth century.

Its modern use usually means a company that sets an industry standard.

A wailer is in fact a castrated ram or male sheep, and a bellwether is the leader of the flock.

He knows the routine, and he wears a bell so that the shepherd knows where his sheep are, because all the others will follow the bellwether anywhere without hesitation.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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