[ an-tuh-seed-nt ]
/ ˌæn təˈsid nt /


preceding; prior: an antecedent event.


a preceding circumstance, event, object, style, phenomenon, etc.
  1. ancestors.
  2. the history, events, characteristics, etc., of one's earlier life: Little is known about his birth and antecedents.
Grammar. a word, phrase, or clause, usually a substantive, that is replaced by a pronoun or other substitute later, or occasionally earlier, in the same or in another, usually subsequent, sentence. In Jane lost a glove and she can't find it, Jane is the antecedent of she and glove is the antecedent of it.
  1. the first term of a ratio; the first or third term of a proportion.
  2. the first of two vectors in a dyad.
Logic. the conditional element in a proposition, as “Caesar conquered Gaul,” in “If Caesar conquered Gaul, he was a great general.”

Origin of antecedent

1350–1400; Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin antecēdent- (stem of antecēdēns) going before, present participle of antecēdere to antecede; see -ent

Related forms

an·te·ce·den·tal [an-tuh-see-den-tl] /ˌæn tə siˈdɛn tl/, adjectivean·te·ced·ent·ly, adverb

Can be confused

antecedence antecedents Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for antecedent

British Dictionary definitions for antecedent


/ (ˌæntɪˈsiːdənt) /


an event, circumstance, etc, that happens before another
grammar a word or phrase to which a pronoun refers. In the sentence "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," people is the antecedent of who
logic the hypothetical clause, usually introduced by "if", in a conditional statement: that which implies the other
maths an obsolescent name for numerator (def. 1)
denying the antecedent logic the fallacy of inferring the falsehood of the consequent of a conditional statement, given the truth of the conditional and the falsehood of its antecedent, as if there are five of them, there are more than four: there are not five, so there are not more than four


preceding in time or order; prior
See also antecedents
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medicine definitions for antecedent


[ ăn′tĭ-sēdnt ]


A precursor.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.