AskDefine | Define antecedent

Dictionary Definition

antecedent adj : preceding in time or order [syn: preceding] [ant: subsequent]


1 someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent) [syn: ancestor, ascendant, ascendent, root] [ant: descendant]
2 a preceding occurrence or cause or event
3 anything that precedes something similar in time; "phrenology was an antecedent of modern neuroscience" [syn: forerunner]
4 the referent of an anaphor; a phrase or clause that is referred to by an anaphoric pronoun

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. earlier either in time or order



  1. any thing that precedes another thing, especially the cause of the second thing
  2. one's ancestors
  3. a word, phrase or clause referred to by a pronoun
    In "The policeman asked the boy what he was doing" the phrase "the boy" is the antecedent of the pronoun "he".
  4. The conditional part of a hypothetical proposition

Related terms


any thing that precedes another thing
one's ancestors
a word, phrase or clause referred to by a pronoun
conditional part of a hypothetical proposition



  1. antecedent

Extensive Definition

An antecedent is a preceding event, condition, cause, phrase, or word.
  • Antecedent moisture is a hydrologic term describing the relative wetness condition of a sewershed.
  • In logic, an antecedent is the first half of a hypothetical proposition.
  • In grammar, an antecedent is the word to which a pronoun refers.
  • A musical phrase (music) may be an antecedent or consequent phrase.
  • In criminal cases, antecedents are the life history and previous convictions of a defendant.
  • In behavioral research, an antecedent stimulus elicits a learned response from an organism.
  • In drama and literature, the antecedent action is what occurs prior to the opening of a play or story.
antecedent in German: Antezedens
antecedent in French: Antécédent
antecedent in Slovak: Antecedent

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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