pre·​ce·​dence | \ ˈpre-sə-dən(t)s, pri-ˈsē-dᵊn(t)s \

Definition of precedence

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

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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

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 If all three pass, constitutional amendments take precedence over state law, and whichever amendment receives the most votes would overrule the other. David Eggert, The Seattle Times, "Marijuana backers look for Midwest breakthrough in November," 10 Oct. 2018 As for the allies, sometimes U.S. democratic accountability has to take precedence over the potential embarrassment of British intelligence. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Rebellion at Justice," 23 Sep. 2018 Because the photos weren't taken during an official public appearance, tradition presumably didn't take precedence. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Here's Why Princess Charlotte Always Wears Dresses," 4 Aug. 2018 Spyrliadis said a European warrant ordinarily would take precedence over others, giving France first dibs on prosecuting Vinnik. Washington Post, "Greek court rules to extradite cybercrime suspect to France," 13 July 2018 But at times, Ronan’s work ends up taking precedence over her personal life. Jamie Hawkesworth, Vogue, "Saoirse Ronan on Growing Up on Camera, the Changing Politics of Ireland, and Becoming a Queen," 11 July 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 2

History and Etymology for precedence

see precede

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Last Updated

18 Jan 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

: 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 gather or build up little by little

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