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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for precedence


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Associated Oregon Industries brought a federal suit on behalf of Oregon employers, arguing that the National Labor Relations Act takes precedence and that the state law violates employers’ free speech rights. oregonlive, "National Labor Relations Board sues Oregon, wants judge to nullify state’s workplace meeting law," 8 Feb. 2020 Growth, though, should take precedence, according to Nagaraj. Pramod Mathew, Quartz India, "These ten charts tell you everything about the Indian economy ahead of Budget 2020," 30 Jan. 2020 Most of these workers were recruited as policy professionals, since planning for the UK’s departure from the EU took precedence during the past three years. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "Brexit has reversed a decades-long drop in the size of the UK’s civil service," 22 Jan. 2020 Nails starred at the 2020 Grammy Awards red carpet on Sunday, with eye-catching nail art taking precedence over outrageous makeup or hair styles. Rachel Marlowe, The Hollywood Reporter, "Extravagant Nail Art Stole the Show at the Grammy Awards," 27 Jan. 2020 The resounding answer in phase one is that Trump got his way: Reducing the trade deficit has taken precedence over all else. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Phase One of the China Trade Agreement in Context," 23 Jan. 2020 Responding to uncontrolled wildfires obviously takes precedence over prescribed burns, both in terms of staffing and funding. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Why isn’t California using more prescribed burns to reduce fire risk?," 21 Jan. 2020 San Francisco’s just-cause provisions, which are more protective, would take precedence over the new state law. Kathleen Pender,, "More details on new San Francisco and California renter-protection laws," 16 Jan. 2020 Yes, the devastating fires decimating Australia deserved to take precedence, but Time’s Up’s work deserved mention. Anne Cohen,, "The 2020 Golden Globes Took One Step Forward, Five Steps Back," 7 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of precedence

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

History and Etymology for precedence

see precede

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about precedence

Time Traveler for precedence

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for precedence

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precedence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for precedence


How to pronounce precedence (audio) How to pronounce precedence (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!