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See also: antécédence





From Latin antecēdentia from Latin antecēdēns (preceding), from antecēdō (go before).


  • IPA(key): /ænˈtɛsɪdəns/
  • Audio (US):(file)



antecedence (countable and uncountable, plural antecedences)

  1. The relationship of preceding something in time or order.
    Synonyms: precedence, priority; see also Thesaurus:anteriority
    Antonyms: subsequence; see also Thesaurus:posteriority
    • 1546, George Joye, The Refutation of the Byshop of Winchesters Derke Declaration of His False Articles[2], London: J. Herford, page lxi:
      [] your [] darke argument [] is this breifly in fewe wordes. The office [] of charite is to geue life ergo charitie iustifieth. [] But what and if I denye your antecedence, and proue it by scripture, that faith and not loue is the lyfe of the iustified.
    • 1651, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, London: Andrew Crooke, “Of Man,” Chapter 12, p. 52,[3]
      [] whereas there is no other Felicity of Beasts, but the enjoying of their quotidian Food, Ease, and Lusts; as having little, or no foresight of the time to come, for want of observation, and memory of the order, consequence, and dependance of the things they see; Man observeth how one Event hath been produced by another; and remembreth in them Antecedence and Consequence;
    • 1855, Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Psychology[4], § 33, p. 129:
      [] we are concerned with those relations of antecedence or sequence which it is impossible to think of as other than we know them.
    • 1965, Grahame Clark, Stuart Piggott, chapter 8, in Prehistoric Societies[5], New York: Knopf, page 165:
      [] the phrase ‘Pre-pottery Neolithic’ has been coined, but this clumsy term carries with it an implication of antecedence to all pottery-using cultures, which is misleading, as such cultures were sometimes only locally without pottery as a cultural trait in areas where potter-making existed in close proximity.
  2. That which precedes something or someone (e.g. prior events, origin, ancestry).
    • 1858, Thomas Carlyle, History of Friedrich the Second[6], New York: Harper, Volume 2, Book 10, Chapter 2, p. 461:
      [] it is pleasantly notable [] with what desperate intensity, vigilance, and fierceness Madame watches over all his interests, and liabilities, and casualties great and small, leaping with her whole force into M. de Voltaire’s scale of the balance, careless of antecedences and consequences alike; flying with the spirit of an angry brood-hen, at the face of mastiffs in defense of any feather that is M. de Voltaire’s.
    • 1988, Rupert Christiansen, Romantic Affinities[7], New York: Putnam, page 253:
      The literature on the French Revolution and its antecedence is vast.
    • 1993, Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy[8], Boston: Little, Brown:
      The child she had conceived in terror, had carried in shame, and had borne in pain had been given the name of that paradisal spring which could, if anything could, wash antecedence into non-existence and torment into calm.
    • 2010, Howard Jacobson, chapter 11, in The Finkler Question[9], New York: Bloomsbury, page 271:
      He had at no time been sympathetic to Tyler’s Jewish aspirations. He didn’t need to be married to a Jew. He was Jew enough — at least in his antecedence — for both of them.
  3. The length of time by which one event or time period precedes another.
    • 1851, John Richardson, Arctic Searching Expedition, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, Volume 2, Appendix, No. 2, pp. 239-240,[10]
      The average antecedence of spring phenomena at Carlton House to their occurrence at Cumberland House is between a fortnight and three weeks.
    • 1949, William Scott Ferguson, “Orgeonika” in Commemorative Studies in Honor of Theodore Leslie Shear, Hesperia Supplement VIII, reprint, Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1975, p. 146,[11]
      [] the following year would have shown an antecedence of the conciliar year over the civil of [] fourteen days.
  4. (grammar) The relationship between a pronoun and its antecedent.
    • 1895, Austin Phelps, Henry Allyn Frink, chapter 13, in Rhetoric: Its Theory and Practice[12], New York: Scribner, page 109:
      Sometimes this defect amounts to a blundering obliviousness of all antecedence. The following tearful reproof was given by a judge of the State of New York to a prisoner just convicted: “ [] nature has endowed you with a good education and respectable family connections, instead of which you go around the country stealing ducks.”
    • 1941, John B. Opdycke, Harper’s English Grammar[13], New York: Popular Library, published 1965, Part 1, Chapter 2, p. 52:
      The pronouns who and which and what, used interrogatively, [] may refer to a word or to words in the answer to a question, but their antecedence may be indefinite or unrevealed, even after the answer is given.
  5. (geology) A geologic process that explains how and why antecedent rivers can cut through mountain systems instead of going around them.
    • 2005, Wallace R. Hansen, The Geologic Story of the Uinta Mountains, Guilford, CT: Falcon, 2nd ed., p. 26,[14]
      Speculation as to how the Green River established its course across the Uinta Mountains led Powell to introduce such terms as “superposition” and “antecedence” to identify processes by which streams are able to establish and maintain courses across mountain barriers.
  6. (astronomy, obsolete) An apparent motion of a planet toward the west.[1]
    Synonym: retrogradation






  1. ^ John Harris, Lexicon Technicum: Or, An Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, London: Dan. Brown et al., 2nd ed., 1708: “The Astronomers say, a Planet is in Antecedence, when it appears to move contrary to the usual Course or Order of the Signs of the Zodiack, as when it moves from Taurus towards Aries, &c. but if it go from Aries to Taurus, and thence to Gemini, &c. they say it goes [] in Consequence.”[1]

Further reading