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

Synonyms for antecedent

Antonyms for antecedent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for antecedent

Contemporary Examples of antecedent

Historical Examples of antecedent

  • The antecedent of this pronoun had been mentioned for the last time at eight o'clock.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • If magnetism be an antecedent factor, magnetism may be its product.

    The Machinery of the Universe

    Amos Emerson Dolbear

  • The antecedent in this instance is not Rubicon, but the entire clause.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • His scientists, his historians were all of the Victorian age or antecedent thereto.

  • No, its head spring, in this case, was antecedent to the lake.

British Dictionary definitions for antecedent



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

Word Origin and History for antecedent

late 14c. (n. and adj.), from Old French antecedent (14c.) or directly from Latin antecedentem (nominative antecedens), present participle of antecedere "go before, precede," from ante- "before" (see ante) + cedere "to yield" (see cede). Used as a noun in Latin philosophical writings.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

antecedent in Medicine




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