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

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 Care and quality should always take precedence over faster. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "At Bristol Bay, there’s a changing of the guard at the boatyard," 7 July 2018 The state Supreme Court ruled Laredo’s ban conflicted with state law, which takes precedence. Allie Morris, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas Supreme Court strikes down city plastic bag bans," 22 June 2018 Other issues have also taken precedence in the EU, including the migrant crisis, knocking Brexit off the top spot on the agenda. Emma Ross-thomas,, "Brexit Bulletin: The Threat of No Deal," 19 June 2018 But the Astros — as well as the first-place Boston Red Sox — will most likely remain a yardstick with which to measure how this Yankees team might fare again in October, when pitching so often takes precedence. New York Times, "Yankees Offense Takes the Day Off Against Justin Verlander," 28 May 2018 The organization will split the responsibilities moving forward, with the president search taking precedence. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons seek young, rising executive to be face of franchise," 24 May 2018 Matier and RossDock redo set to rock more than Alcatraz After the race, however, the district’s board decided that the bridge’s main job — to move traffic — took precedence and that the days of shutting down lanes for special events were over. Matier & Ross,, "This month’s SF Marathon runs into obstacle at Golden Gate Bridge," 1 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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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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