adjective pre·ce·dent \pri-ˈsē-dənt, ˈpre-sə-dənt\

Definition of PRECEDENT

:  prior in time, order, arrangement, or significance

Examples of PRECEDENT

  1. <behavior that may be explained by a precedent event in her troubled life>


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praecedent-, praecedens, present participle of praecedere (see precede)
First Known Use: 15th century

Rhymes with PRECEDENT


noun prec·e·dent \ˈpre-sə-dənt\

: a similar action or event that happened at an earlier time

: something done or said that can be used as an example or rule to be followed in the future

: the usual or traditional way of doing something

Full Definition of PRECEDENT

:  an earlier occurrence of something similar
a :  something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind <a verdict that had no precedent>
b :  the convention established by such a precedent or by long practice
:  a person or thing that serves as a model

Examples of PRECEDENT

  1. The judge's ruling was based on a precedent established by an earlier decision.
  2. He says that the government will set a dangerous precedent if it refuses to allow the protesters to hold a rally.
  3. The judge's ruling was based on legal precedent.
  4. Suddenly, against all historical precedent just for that week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have morphed into a well-organized and dependable outfit. —John McWhorter, National Review, 26 Sept. 2005


(see 1precedent)
First Known Use: 15th century
PRECEDENT Defined for Kids


noun pre·ce·dent \ˈpre-sə-dənt\

Definition of PRECEDENT for Kids

:  something that can be used as a rule or example to be followed in the future


Next Word in the Dictionary: precedent conditionPrevious Word in the Dictionary: precedencyAll Words Near: precedent
July 03, 2015
interpellate Hear it
to formally question a public official
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