1. The relationship of preceding something in time or order.
    Synonyms: precedence, priority, Thesaurus:anteriority
    Antonyms: subsequence, Thesaurus:posteriority
    • 1546, George Joye, The Refutation of the Byshop of Winchesters Derke Declaration of His False Articles, London: J. Herford, p. 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 (Hobbes book), London: Andrew Crooke, “Of Man,” Chapter 12, p. 52,
      […] 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, § 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 and Stuart Piggott, Prehistoric Societies, New York: Knopf, Chapter 8, p. 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 II of Prussia, New York: Harper, Volume 2, Book 10, Chapter 2, p. 461,
      […] it is pleasantly notable […] with what desperate intensity, vigilance, and fierceness Émilie du Châtelet watches over all his interests, and liabilities, and casualties great and small, leaping with her whole force into 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, New York: Putnam, Select Bibliography, p. 253,
      The literature on the French Revolution and its antecedence is vast.
    • 1993, Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy, Boston: Little, Brown, 17.22,
      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, The Finkler Question, New York: Bloomsbury, Chapter 11, p. 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 (naturalist), Arctic Searching Expedition, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, Volume 2, Appendix, No. 2, pp. 239-240,
      The average antecedence of spring phenomena at Fort Carlton to their occurrence at Cumberland House, Saskatchewan is between a fortnight and three weeks.
    • 1949, William Scott Ferguson, “Orgeonika” in Commemorative Studies in Honor of Theodore Leslie Shear, Hesperia (journal) Supplement VIII, reprint, Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1975, p. 146,
      […] 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#Noun|antecedent.
    • 1895, Austin Phelps and Henry Allyn Frink, Rhetoric: Its Theory and Practice, New York: Scribner, Chapter 13, p. 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, New York: Popular Library, 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,
      Speculation as to how the Green River (Colorado River tributary) established its course across the Uinta Mountains led John Wesley 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.
    Synonyms: retrogradation
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