An antecedent is a thing that comes before something else. You might think rap music has no historical antecedent, but earlier forms of African-American spoken verse go back for centuries.

In logic, mathematics, and grammar, the word antecedent (from Latin ante-, "before" + cedere, "to yield") has the meaning "the first part of a statement." More generally, it means "something that came before, and perhaps caused, something else." The word is also an adjective: a lawyer or judge might talk about the "antecedent events" leading up to someone committing a crime.

Definitions of antecedent
  1. noun
    a preceding occurrence or cause or event
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    type of:
    events that provide the generative force that is the origin of something
  2. noun
    anything that precedes something similar in time
    “phrenology was an antecedent of modern neuroscience”
    synonyms: forerunner
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    type of:
    temporal relation
    a relation involving time
  3. noun
    someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent)
    synonyms: ancestor, ascendant, ascendent, root
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    descendant, descendent
    a person considered as descended from some ancestor or race
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    a woman ancestor
    forbear, forebear
    a person from whom you are descended
    father, forefather, sire
    the founder of a family
    a woman ancestor
    primogenitor, progenitor
    an ancestor in the direct line
    a natural father or mother
    a parent of your father or mother
    great grandparent
    a parent of your grandparent
    any of the early biblical characters regarded as fathers of the human race
    type of:
    relation, relative
    a person related by blood or marriage
  4. adjective
    preceding in time or order
    anterior, prior
    earlier in time
    anticipatory, prevenient
    in anticipation
    pre-existent, pre-existing, preexistent, preexisting
    existing previously or before something
    existing or coming before
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    following in time or order
    accompanying, attendant, concomitant, consequent, corollary, ensuant, incidental, resultant, sequent
    following or occurring as a consequence
    later, posterior, ulterior
    coming at a subsequent time or stage
    coming after or following
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  5. noun
    the referent of an anaphor; a phrase or clause that is referred to by an anaphoric pronoun
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    type of:
    something referred to; the object of a reference
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