pre·​de·​ces·​sor | \ ˈpre-də-ˌse-sər How to pronounce predecessor (audio) , ˈprē-; ˌpre-də-ˈse-, ˌprē- How to pronounce predecessor (audio) \

Definition of predecessor

1 : one that precedes especially : a person who has previously occupied a position or office to which another has succeeded
2 archaic : ancestor

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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 Blaise Compaoré, who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years, is to be tried for the murder of his predecessor, Thomas Sankara, who was killed in a coup in 1987. The Economist, "Politics this week," 15 Apr. 2021 Even the name of the new school, Institut du Service Public, has a bureaucratic ring worthy of its predecessor. Nick Kostov, WSJ, "France’s Macron Replaces ENA With New School for French Elite," 8 Apr. 2021 Biden took office promising a more welcoming approach to immigrants and a reversal of his predecessor’s hard-line policies. Nick Miroff, Anchorage Daily News, "Border crossings in March jumped to highest level in 15 years, data shows," 3 Apr. 2021 Secretary of State Antony Blinken repudiated the Trump administration's approach to human rights, with his most direct condemnation of his predecessor yet. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, "Blinken swipes at Trump administration in unveiling human rights report," 30 Mar. 2021 Unlike the squeezable tube of its predecessor, this matte formula is encased in a bottle with a pump and removable cap. Gabi Thorne, Allure, "Black Girl Sunscreen Does It Again With Its Matte SPF," 27 Mar. 2021 Motsepe’s March 12 election lacked the drama of his predecessor’s four years ago. Daniel Ekonde, Quartz, "Africa’s new soccer boss has inherited an unholy mess," 23 Mar. 2021 Republicans in Congress say the spike in migrants at the border was sparked by President Joe Biden’s promise to undo some of the immigration policies of his predecessor. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Romney, Stewart blame Biden and Democrats for border crisis," 22 Mar. 2021 In January, the Biden administration changed the policy of its predecessor by stopping the return of unaccompanied minors to Mexico, which was instituted as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Carly Ortiz-lytle, Washington Examiner, "Biden administration spending $86M to house migrants in hotels," 21 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'predecessor.' 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 predecessor

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for predecessor

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

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Time Traveler for predecessor

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for predecessor

Last Updated

18 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Predecessor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for predecessor



English Language Learners Definition of predecessor

: a person who had a job or position before someone else
: something that comes before something else


pre·​de·​ces·​sor | \ ˈpre-də-ˌse-sər How to pronounce predecessor (audio) , ˈprē- \

Kids Definition of predecessor

: a person who held a job or position before someone else

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Comments on predecessor

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