toggle menu
1000+ books


used in a sentence
(click/touch triangles for details)
Definition something that happened previous to something else; or anything that precedes something

More rarely and more specifically, antecedent can take on these specialized meanings:

Grammar:  a word or phrase that precedes a pronoun and to which the pronoun refers. In She is the best at math in her grade, the pronoun her refers to the antecedent she.

Logic:  a condition in a hypothetical proposition such as If all people are moral, then you are mortal.

Genealogy:  All of someone's ancestors.

For less common examples, including one in math, see a comprehensive dictionary.
  • Surges in debt are a recurring antecedent to U.S. banking crises.
antecedent = something that precedes something else
  • Student motivation as an antecedent to accelerated education.
  • antecedent = something that necessarily precedes something else
  • He told me all this very much later, but I've put it down here with the idea of exploding those first wild rumors about his antecedents, which weren't even faintly true.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • antecedents = past actions
  • At a period immeasurably antecedent to the silurian epoch...
    Charles Darwin  --  The Origin of Species
  • For any one war seemed so rooted in its antecedents.
    T. H. White  --  The Once and Future King
  • 'My only response is that I'm entirely too kind and experienced to speculate on your antecedents.
    Robert Ludlum  --  The Bourne Supremacy
  • Your pronoun needs an antecedent, don't you see," he would say, very primly.
    Russell Baker  --  Growing Up
  • Or if the traditional birth image is remembered, nothing is said of an antecedent marriage.
    Joseph Campbell  --  The Hero With a Thousand Faces
  • At these passionate interjections, mere incoherences to the listener as yet unapprised of the antecedents, the Surgeon was profoundly discomposed.
    Herman Melville  --  Billy Budd
  • In his Foundations of Science Poincaré explained that the antecedents of the crisis in the foundations of science were very old.
    Robert M. Pirsig  --  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Nothing peculiar about her family antecedents, is there?
    Kate Chopin  --  The Awakening
  • It was the first time it had ever been so complemented, and Madame Defarge knew enough of its antecedents to know better.
    Charles Dickens  --  A Tale of Two Cities
  • But I ought to understand how limited the possibilities of a firm like his were to hire a boy of my antecedents.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • Moreover, by chance or by devilry, the ministrant was antecedently made interesting by being a handsome stranger who had evidently seen better days.
    Thomas Hardy  --  Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Begin it early, and do it well; and there is no antecedent to it, in any origin or station, that will tell against us with the Almighty, or with ourselves.'
    Charles Dickens  --  Little Dorrit
  • Let us put it down to his deplorable antecedents and education, if you wish.
    E.M. Forster  --  A Room With A View
  • Your brother told me that my antecedents and occupations were against me; that your family stands, somehow, on a higher level than I do.
    Henry James  --  The American
  • These contain an internal evidence which, antecedent to all reflection or combination, commands the assent of the mind.
    Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & John Jay  --  The Federalist Papers
  • I wish you to marry a young man with other antecedents—a young man who could give positive guarantees.
    Henry James  --  Washington Square
  • Steve had been a teacher of Afrikaans, and he not only spoke perfect Afrikaans but its antecedent, High Dutch.
    Nelson Mandela  --  Long Walk to Freedom

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list —®
Search for other examples by interest
General — Google News®
General — Time® Magazine
General — Wikipedia®
Architecture — Google® books - Architecture
Business — Bloomberg®
Business — The Economist®
Classic Literature — Google® books - Classical Literature
Engineering — Google® books - Engineering
Engineering — Popular Mechanics®
Engineering — Discover Magazine®
Fine Arts & Music — Google® books - Art
History — Google® books - History
Human Behavior — Google® books - Psychology
Human Behavior — Psychology Today®
Law — FindLaw®
Law — Google® books - Law
Logic & Reasoning — Google® books - Reasoning
Medicine — Web MD®
Medicine — Google® books - Medicine
Nature & Ecology — National Geographic®
Nature & Ecology — Google® books - Nature
Personal Finance — Kiplinger® (Personal Finance)
Philosophy — Google® books - Philosophy
Public Policy & Politics — Newsweek®
Public Policy & Politics — Real Clear Politics®
Public Policy & Politics — Google® books - Politics
Religion & Spirtuality — Google® books - Religion
Religion - Christianity — Bible Gateway®
Religion - Christianity — Google® books - Christianity
Science — Popular Science®
Science — Scientific American®
Science — Google® books - Science
Sports — Sports Illustrated®