precedent

A precedent is something that sets a standard for future events. It's hard to say what the legal community would do without the word precedent, since so many legal judgments and decisions are based on what came before.

Lawyers and judges often look for a precedent that can be used as a guide for a similar case. This word is used elsewhere too. Your mom might not let you stay up late because it would set a bad precedent for future bedtimes. A teacher who lets kids chew gum is setting a precedent that gum-chewing will be OK in the future. People often refer to a precedent later on as a reference point for how things should be.

Definitions of precedent
1

n an example that is used to justify similar occurrences at a later time

Synonyms:
case in point
Type of:
example, illustration, instance, representative
an item of information that is typical of a class or group

n (civil law) a previous legal decision that is used to inform subsequent decisions

Synonyms:
case law, common law
Type of:
civil law
the body of laws established by a state or nation for its own regulation

n a system of jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws

Synonyms:
case law, common law
Type of:
jurisprudence, law
the collection of rules imposed by authority

n a subject mentioned earlier (preceding in time)

Type of:
subject, theme, topic
the subject matter of a conversation or discussion

adj preceding in time, order, or significance

Synonyms:
preceding
existing or coming before

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