noun an·te·ced·ent \ˌan-tə-ˈsē-dənt\

grammar : a word or phrase that is represented by another word (such as a pronoun)

: something that came before something else and may have influenced or caused it

antecedents : the people in a family who lived in past times

Full Definition of ANTECEDENT

:  a substantive word, phrase, or clause whose denotation is referred to by a pronoun (as John in Mary saw John and called to him); broadly :  a word or phrase replaced by a substitute
:  the conditional element in a proposition (as if A in if A, then B)
:  the first term of a mathematical ratio
a :  a preceding event, condition, or cause
b plural :  the significant events, conditions, and traits of one's earlier life
a :  predecessor; especially :  a model or stimulus for later developments
b plural :  ancestors, parents

Examples of ANTECEDENT

  1. John is the antecedent of the pronoun him in Mary saw John and thanked him.
  2. <what are the antecedents of the American Revolutionary War?>


Middle English, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin antecedent-, antecedens, from Latin, what precedes, from neuter of antecedent-, antecedens, present participle of antecedere to go before, from ante- + cedere to go
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile



: earlier in time

Full Definition of ANTECEDENT

:  prior
an·te·ced·ent·ly adverb

Examples of ANTECEDENT

  1. <I'd like to follow up on an antecedent question from another reporter.>

First Known Use of ANTECEDENT

14th century


Next Word in the Dictionary: antecedentalPrevious Word in the Dictionary: antecedencyAll Words Near: antecedent
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