1. preceding; prior: an antecedent event.


  1. a preceding circumstance, event, object, style, phenomenon, etc.
  2. antecedents,
    1. ancestors.
    2. the history, events, characteristics, etc., of one’s earlier life: Little is known about his birth and antecedents.
  3. 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.
  4. Mathematics.
    1. the first term of a ratio; the first or third term of a proportion.
    2. the first of two vectors in a dyad.
  5. Logic. the conditional element in a proposition, as “Caesar conquered Gaul,” in “If Caesar conquered Gaul, he was a great general.”


  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
  3. logic the hypothetical clause, usually introduced by “if”, in a conditional statement: that which implies the other
  4. maths an obsolescent name for numerator (def. 1)
  5. 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

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.


  1. A precursor.

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