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Meaning of antecedent

an•te•ced•ent

Pronunciation: (an"tu-sēd'nt), [key]
— adj.
  1. preceding; prior: an antecedent event.
—n.
  1. a preceding circumstance, event, object, style, phenomenon, etc.
  2. Little is known about his birth and antecedents.
    1. ancestors.
    2. the history, events, characteristics, etc., of one's earlier life:Little is known about his birth and antecedents.
  3. a word, phrase, or clause, usually a substantive, that is replaced by a pronoun or other substitute later, or occasionally earlier, in the same or in another, usually subsequent, sentence. In Jane lost a glove and she can't find it, Jane is the antecedent of she and glove is the antecedent of it.
    1. the first term of a ratio; the first or third term of a proportion.
    2. the first of two vectors in a dyad.
  4. the conditional element in a proposition, as “Caesar conquered Gaul,” in “If Caesar conquered Gaul, he was a great general.”
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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