pre·​ce·​dence | \ ˈpre-sə-dən(t)s How to pronounce precedence (audio) , pri-ˈsē-dᵊn(t)s How to pronounce precedence (audio) \

Definition of precedence

1a : priority of importance your safety takes precedence
b : the right to superior honor on a ceremonial or formal occasion
c : the order of ceremonial or formal preference
2a : the fact of coming or occurring earlier in time
b obsolete : antecedent

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Synonyms for precedence


priority, right-of-way

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Examples of precedence in a Sentence

Americans, Adams now believed, were as driven by the passions for wealth and precedence as any people in history. Ambition, avarice, and resentment, not virtue and benevolence, were the stuff of American society. — Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters, 2006 So, too, did most accept that all economies are characterized by struggles for power and precedence among men and institutions run by men; in other words, that all economies are fundamentally political in nature. — Barry C. Lynn, Harper's, July 2006 Jefferson abolished precedence and placement at White House dinners to emphasize that all guests were equal, but his system—he called it "pell-mell"—was abandoned, and we have guests of honor and use place cards today. — Naomi Bliven, New York Times Book Review, 12 Sept. 1999 his merchandise order takes precedence because we received it first
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Recent Examples on the Web

Medicare-for-all reflects that resolute vision, one in which our common well-being and dignity take obvious precedence over the profits of a few. Tim Higginbotham And Chris Middleman, Vox, "“Medicare-for-all” means something. Don’t let moderates water it down.," 13 July 2018 Despite a 2-0 hole and historical precedence in favor of Golden State, the Cavs aren’t out of this series yet. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "LeBron James, Cavaliers frustrated but not deflated after Game 2 Finals loss," 4 June 2018 Meanwhile, the crown updated the rules of succession a few years ago to end male precedence over female heirs. Autumn Brewington,, "5 myths about the British royals," 14 May 2018 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, landed in Washington on Sunday in the midst of a convergence of crises at home with little precedence. Noga Tarnopolsky,, "Netanyahu begins visit to U.S., putting aside personal and political troubles at home," 5 Mar. 2018 Khedira believes players fully committed to Tunisia deserve to take precedence in the journey to Russia., "FC Augsburg Midfielder Rani Khedira Turns Down Chance to Represent Tunisia at World Cup," 9 Feb. 2018 But making art had to take a backseat in that phase of life, when providing a stable existence for her children took precedence. Natalia Rachlin, WSJ, "Phyllida Barlow’s Supersize Sculptures Will Soon Arrive in New York," 9 Oct. 2018 In markets that lack net-neutrality protections (such as America), dominant internet providers might decide to give their own streaming services precedence over Netflix. The Economist, "Netflix is moving television beyond time-slots and national markets," 28 June 2018 But that changed when the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 was established, stating that a person's gender does not give him or her any precedence over any other person in the line of succession. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The New Royal Baby Is a Boy and That's a Big Deal for Princess Charlotte," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precedence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of precedence

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for precedence

see precede

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Statistics for precedence

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precedence

The first known use of precedence was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of precedence

somewhat formal : the condition of being more important than something or someone else and therefore coming or being dealt with first

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Comments on precedence

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


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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