[pres-i-duh ns, pri-seed-ns]


act or fact of preceding.
the right to precede in order, rank, or importance; priority.
the fact of preceding in time; antedating.
the right to precede others in ceremonies or social formalities.
the order to be observed in ceremonies by persons of different ranks, as by diplomatic protocol.

Origin of precedence

First recorded in 1475–85; preced(ent) + -ence
Can be confusedprecedence precedents presidents Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for precedence

Contemporary Examples of precedence

Historical Examples of precedence

  • But the old sleep must have the precedence of all the new things.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • But it transpired that there was something preparatory to that, or at least that must take the precedence.

  • Meeting Casanova in the entry, he gave him precedence with mock politeness.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • There is no other law of precedence, no other law of rank and position in God's kingdom.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • Imogen had been unused to the distinctions of rank and precedence.


    William Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for precedence




the act of preceding or the condition of being precedent
the ceremonial order or priority to be observed by persons of different stations on formal occasionsthe officers are seated according to precedence
a right to preferential treatmentI take precedence over you
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 precedence

late 15c., "a being a precedent," from precedent (n.) + -ence. Meaning "fact of preceding another, right of preceding another" is from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper