1

precedent

adjective pre·ce·dent \ pri-ˈsē-dᵊnt , ˈpre-sə-dənt \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of precedent

: prior in time, order, arrangement, or significance

Examples of precedent in a Sentence

  1. behavior that may be explained by a precedent event in her troubled life

Origin and Etymology of precedent

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praecedent-, praecedens, present participle of praecedere — see precede


2

precedent

noun prec·e·dent \ ˈpre-sə-dənt \

Definition of precedent

1 : an earlier occurrence of something similar
2 a : something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind
  • a verdict that had no precedent
b : the convention established by such a precedent or by long practice
3 : a person or thing that serves as a model

Examples of precedent in a Sentence

  1. Suddenly, against all historical precedent just for that week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have morphed into a well-organized and dependable outfit. —John McWhorterNational Review26 Sept. 2005
  2. On July 12, in an action that seems to have been without precedent, the House voted, 355-0, to condemn a scientific article. —Jonathan RauchNational Journal7 Aug. 1999
  3. In cases close-run enough to require the Supreme court to decide them, precedent and principle are elastic enough, or complex enough, that justices can often decide either way without brazenly contradicting themselves. —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.New Republic20 & 27 Sept. 1993
  4. We begin to appreciate the mystery when we realize that the act of naming, or denotation, is generically without precedent in natural history. —Walker Percy"Naming And Being," 1960, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991
  5. The judge's ruling was based on a precedent established by an earlier decision.

  6. He says that the government will set a dangerous precedent if it refuses to allow the protesters to hold a rally.

  7. The judge's ruling was based on legal precedent.

Recent Examples of precedent from the Web

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

precedent and the Supreme Court

A precedent is something that precedes, or comes before. The Supreme Court relies on precedents—that is, earlier laws or decisions that provide some example or rule to guide them in the case they're actually deciding. When hostages are being held for ransom, a government may worry about setting a bad precedent if it gives in. And a company might "break with precedent" by naming a foreigner as its president for the first time.

Origin and Etymology of precedent



PRECEDENT Defined for English Language Learners

precedent

noun

Definition of precedent for English Language Learners

  • : a similar action or event that happened at an earlier time

  • : something done or said that can be used as an example or rule to be followed in the future

  • : the usual or traditional way of doing something


PRECEDENT Defined for Kids

precedent

noun pre·ce·dent \ ˈpre-sə-dənt \

Definition of precedent for Students

: something that can be used as a rule or example to be followed in the future

Law Dictionary

1

precedent

adjective pre·ce·dent \ pri-ˈsēd-ᵊnt, ˈpre-səd- \

legal Definition of precedent

: prior in time, order, arrangement, or significance — see also condition precedent at condition — compare subsequent

Origin and Etymology of precedent

Middle French, from Latin praecedent- praecedens, present participle of praecedere to go ahead of, come before


2

precedent

noun prec·e·dent \ ˈpre-səd-ᵊnt \

legal Definition of precedent

: a judicial decision that should be followed by a judge when deciding a later similar case — see also stare decisis — compare dictum
Note: To serve as precedent for a pending case, a prior decision must have a similar question of law and factual situation. If the precedent is from the same or a superior jurisdiction (as the state's supreme court), it is binding upon the court and must be followed; if the precedent is from another jurisdiction (as another state's supreme court), it is considered only persuasive. Precedents may be overruled especially by the same court that originally rendered the decision.


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