Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

precedent

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

Definition of precedent

  1. :  prior in time, order, arrangement, or significance



Examples of precedent in a sentence

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



Origin of precedent

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praecedent-, praecedens, present participle of praecedere (see precede)


First Known Use: 15th century

Rhymes with precedent


2

precedent

play
noun prec·e·dent \ˈpre-sə-dənt\

Simple Definition of precedent

  • : 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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of precedent

  1. 1 :  an earlier occurrence of something similar

  2. 2 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

  3. 3 :  a person or thing that serves as a model

Examples of precedent in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. On July 12, in an action that seems to have been without precedent, the House voted, 355-0, to condemn a scientific article. —Jonathan Rauch, National Journal, 7 Aug. 1999

  3. In cases close-run enough to require the Supreme court to decide them, precedent and principle are elastic enough, or complex enough, that justices can often decide either way without brazenly contradicting themselves. —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New Republic, 20 & 27 Sept. 1993

  4. We begin to appreciate the mystery when we realize that the act of naming, or denotation, is generically without precedent in natural history. —Walker Percy, “Naming And Being,” 1960, in Signposts in a Strange Land, 1991

  5. The judge's ruling was based on a precedent established by an earlier decision.

  6. He says that the government will set a dangerous precedent if it refuses to allow the protesters to hold a rally.

  7. The judge's ruling was based on legal precedent.



Origin of precedent

(see 1precedent)


First Known Use: 15th century



PRECEDENT Defined for Kids

precedent

play
noun pre·ce·dent \ˈpre-sə-dənt\

Definition of precedent for Students

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




Law Dictionary

1

precedent

play
adjective pre·ce·dent \pri-ˈsēd-ənt, ˈpre-səd-\

Legal Definition of precedent

  1. :  prior in time, order, arrangement, or significance — see also condition precedent at condition — compare subsequent



Origin of precedent

Middle French, from Latin praecedent- praecedens, present participle of praecedere to go ahead of, come before


2

precedent

play
noun prec·e·dent \ˈpre-səd-ənt\

Legal Definition of precedent

  1. :  a judicial decision that should be followed by a judge when deciding a later similar case — see also stare decisis — compare dictum



Additional Notes on precedent

To serve as precedent for a pending case, a prior decision must have a similar question of law and factual situation. If the precedent is from the same or a superior jurisdiction (as the state's supreme court), it is binding upon the court and must be followed; if the precedent is from another jurisdiction (as another state's supreme court), it is considered only persuasive. Precedents may be overruled esp. by the same court that originally rendered the decision.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up precedent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the Celtic May Day festival

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

oily angry prompt maudlin
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ