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

However, Pelosi also noted that there are some issues that take precedence over other policies and must be discussed. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "The DNC said no to a climate debate. Some of its members are still trying to make it happen.," 10 June 2019 In a case last year involving Achmea, a Dutch health-care company, and Slovakia the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that EU law takes precedence over the Dutch-Slovak BIT. The Economist, "Disgruntled investors are losing patience with central Europe," 8 June 2019 For me, however, the emotional draw of mountains has always taken precedence over the pursuit of adrenaline. National Geographic, "Why the world’s most daunting mountains inspire me," 11 Apr. 2019 On a basic level, your home life takes precedence at the beginning of May. New beginnings presenting the opportunity for more stability on the home front come Saturday, May 4. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What May’s Aquarius Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Apr. 2019 Male heirs no longer take precedence over their sisters. Katie Frost, Redbook, "7 Things You Didn't Know About Being a Royal Heir," 4 Sep. 2017 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

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

21 Jun 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).


showing courage and determination

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