pre·​ced·​ing pri-ˈsē-diŋ How to pronounce preceding (audio)
: existing, coming, or occurring immediately before in time or place
the preceding day
preceding paragraphs
Choose the Right Synonym for preceding

preceding, antecedent, foregoing, previous, prior, former, anterior mean being before.

preceding usually implies being immediately before in time or in place.

the preceding sentence

antecedent applies to order in time and may suggest a causal relation.

conditions antecedent to the revolution

foregoing applies chiefly to statements.

the foregoing remarks

previous and prior imply existing or occurring earlier, but prior often adds an implication of greater importance.

a child from a previous marriage
a prior obligation

former implies always a definite comparison or contrast with something that is latter.

the former name of the company

anterior applies to position before or ahead of usually in space, sometimes in time or order.

the anterior lobe of the brain

Examples of preceding in a Sentence

The once refulgent reign of Queen Elizabeth had come to a stale and frustrated end in the preceding year, and a new monarch had been imported from Scotland … Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review, 18 May 2003
The building code, layered with attempts to correct the ignorance of preceding generations, is a set of rules for coping with some of the most unruly moods of the land: mudslides, wildfires, steep slopes, a dearth of water and a surfeit of seismic activity. Timothy Egan, New York Times, 20 Feb. 1994
I have had a fever of about three weeks during the last and preceding month, from which I am entirely recovered except as to strength. Thomas Jefferson, letter, 4 Sept. 1823
The preceding week he had been on vacation. had not eaten since the preceding day
Recent Examples on the Web The accolades, as well as the president's preceding remarks, came exactly two years after the riot, which saw a number of former President Donald Trump's supporters storm the U.S. Capitol in an effort the overturn the 2020 election. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 6 Jan. 2023 Lincecum had sneaked by Madison Bumgarner to advance in the preceding round, garnering 51% of the votes. John Shea,, 5 Apr. 2020 Annual inflation has been just 1.8% on average, down from about 3.5% during the preceding 20 years and 4.5% in the two decades before that. The Economist, 13 Feb. 2020 But the train whirred, caught and deposited us at the preceding station. Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2020 And/or the headings are continuations of the last sentence of the preceding section: But first, before Franz got back, THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG came round. Ben Lerner, The New Yorker, 30 Sep. 2019 The preceding fortnight offered a new round of action, though. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, 23 June 2019 United Nations officials confirmed that there had been shelling in eastern Ghouta on Tuesday morning, and said there were also reports of shelling toward Damascus during the preceding night, before the cease-fire was to begin. Nada Homsi and Richard PÉrez-PeÑa, New York Times, 27 Feb. 2018 This year's crop of nominees are all (mostly) great, and the many preceding award shows—from the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the BAFTAs, and the various critics associations—have made this year's winners pretty obvious already. Tyler Coates, Esquire, 27 Feb. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preceding.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see precede

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of preceding was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near preceding

Cite this Entry

“Preceding.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​ced·​ing pri-ˈsēd-iŋ How to pronounce preceding (audio)
: going before : previous

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