pre·​de·​ces·​sor ˈpre-də-ˌse-sər How to pronounce predecessor (audio)
ˌprē- How to pronounce predecessor (audio)
: one that precedes
especially : a person who has previously occupied a position or office to which another has succeeded
archaic : ancestor

Examples of predecessor in a Sentence

Today's computers are much faster than their predecessors were. the once-ubiquitous typewriter was the predecessor of today's electronic keyboard
Recent Examples on the Web However, its predecessor remains our favorite fitness tracker, but this model struggles, at times. Scott Gilbertson, WIRED, 25 Nov. 2023 Buck held the position for four years and his predecessor for five. Nick Anderson The Washington Post,, 25 Nov. 2023 Privacy-conscious users will be happy to know that the S8 Pro Ultra, unlike its predecessor, relies exclusively on sensors, rather than a webcam for mapping. Chuong Nguyen, Ars Technica, 23 Nov. 2023 Its predecessor, Captain Marvel, opened to $153 million in 2019. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2023 His exit follows the departure of his predecessor, who left in late October after roughly three years at the startup to take a job with another company, leading Fisker to unexpectedly delay its earnings release. Sean McLain, WSJ, 20 Nov. 2023 Mace also quoted Harry Anslinger, the first director, in 1930, of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Joe Davidson, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 Cecile de Jongh, wife of one of Bryan’s predecessors as governor, John de Jongh, even worked for Epstein. Ava Benny-Morrison, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2023 And its debut was far short of its blockbuster predecessor. Patrick Frater, Variety, 12 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English predecessour, from Anglo-French predecessur, from Late Latin praedecessor, from Latin prae- pre- + decessor retiring governor, from decedere to depart, retire from office — more at decease

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of predecessor was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near predecessor

Cite this Entry

“Predecessor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​de·​ces·​sor ˈpred-ə-ˌses-ər How to pronounce predecessor (audio) ˈprēd- How to pronounce predecessor (audio)
: one that precedes
especially : a person who has held a position or office before another

Middle English predecessour "predecessor," from early French predecesseur (same meaning), from Latin praedecessor "one that goes before," from prae- "before, pre-," and decessor "retiring governor," from decedere "to depart," from de- "from" and cedere "to go, go away" — related to ancestor, concede

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