[ an-tuh-seed-nt ]
See synonyms for: antecedentantecedentsantecedently on

  1. preceding; prior: an antecedent event.

  1. a preceding circumstance, event, object, style, phenomenon, etc.

  2. antecedents,

    • the history, events, characteristics, etc., of one's earlier life: Little is known about his birth and antecedents.

  1. 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.

  2. Mathematics.

    • the first term of a ratio; the first or third term of a proportion.

    • the first of two vectors in a dyad.

  3. Logic. the conditional element in a proposition, as “Caesar conquered Gaul,” in “If Caesar conquered Gaul, he was a great general.”

Origin of antecedent

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin antecēdent-, stem of antecēdēns “going before,” present participle of antecēdere “to go before, precede, excel, surpass”; see antecede

Other words for antecedent

Opposites for antecedent

Other words from antecedent

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

Words that may be confused with antecedent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use antecedent in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for antecedent


/ (ˌæntɪˈsiːdənt) /

  1. an event, circumstance, etc, that happens before another

  2. 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

  1. logic the hypothetical clause, usually introduced by "if", in a conditional statement: that which implies the other

  2. maths an obsolescent name for numerator (def. 1)

  3. 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

  1. preceding in time or order; prior

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