I am trying to respond to a co-worker who sent an email to all staff to warn us to lock our cars and close windows tightly because her car got broken into the night before and she had left her windows down a crack. I wanted to send an email to thank her for the warning but sorry she had to be the “____”. “Guinea pig”, “first victim”, “example”, don’t feel right in this context. Any other suggestions? I thought there was a word for someone who has something happen to them who then alerts others to be on the look out.


2 Answers 2


"Bellwether" may work. Lexico defines it thus:

1.The leading sheep of a flock, with a bell on its neck.

1.1 An indicator or predictor of something.

‘college campuses are often the bellwether of change’


“Canary” seems appropriate, referencing a “Canary in a coal mine” used to alert miners of impending danger.

  • No; a canary is an intended 'detector / warning light'. They were taken down mines for the express purpose of combatting a known threat. OP wants a word for an agent signalling an unexpected threat. Dec 20, 2020 at 14:58
  • There's no indication of "unexpected" in the question. Dec 20, 2020 at 15:04
  • Furthermore, the question asks for "a word for someone who has something happen to them who then alerts others to be on the look out." It seems to me that "canary in the coal-mine" explained as "something which warns of the coming of greater danger or trouble by a deterioration in its health or welfare." Link seems wholly appropriate given the question asked. Dec 20, 2020 at 15:19
  • There is now. I've amended the question in line with the way OP adds detail in the body. ('guinea pig' not being appropriate). Questions where the body doesn't mirror the title need attention. And there is already a thread covering 'canary in a coal mine' etc very thoroughly. Dec 20, 2020 at 15:40
  • Thanks for the suggestions. And thanks for adding the edit of “unexpected “. My first time posting on a site like this. I think Bellwether probably hits closer to the mark then “canary...”. Bellwether isn’t a term I’m super familiar with but the definition seems to fit.
    – Nancy
    Dec 22, 2020 at 3:16

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