precedent

[n. pres-i-duhnt; adj. pri-seed-nt, pres-i-duhnt]
noun
1.
Law. a legal decision or form of proceeding serving as an authoritative rule or pattern in future similar or analogous cases.
2.
any act, decision, or case that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations. example, model, pattern, standard.
adjective, precedent.
3.
going or coming before; preceding; anterior.

Origin:
1350–1400; (adj.) Middle English < Latin praecēdent- (stem of praecēdēns) present participle of praecēdere to go before, precede (see -ent); (noun) late Middle English, derivative of the adj.

precedentless, adjective
nonprecedent, noun
nonprecedent, adjective
quasi-precedent, adjective

precedence, precedents, presidents.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
precedent
 
n
1.  law a judicial decision that serves as an authority for deciding a later case
2.  an example or instance used to justify later similar occurrences
 
adj
3.  preceding

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

precedent
early 15c., "case which may be taken as a rule in similar cases," from M.Fr. precedent, from L. præcedentum (nom. præcedens), prp. of præcedere "go before" (see precede). Meaning "thing or person that goes before another" is attested from mid-15c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
precedent [(press-uh-duhnt)]

A previous ruling by a court that influences subsequent decisions in cases with similar issues.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

precedent

see set a precedent.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

precedent

in law, a judgment or decision of a court that is cited in a subsequent dispute as an example or analogy to justify deciding a similar case or point of law in the same manner. Common law and equity, as found in English and American legal systems, rely strongly on the body of established precedents, although in the original development of equity the court theoretically had freedom from precedent. At the end of the 19th century, the principle of stare decisis (Latin: "let the decision stand") became rigidly accepted in England. In the United States the principle of precedent is strong, though higher courts-particularly the Supreme Court of the United States-may review and overturn earlier precedents.

Learn more about precedent with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
This is a clear precedent for the planet belonging to everyone who inhabits it.
Privacy advocates say the decision sets an important precedent in the fight to
  protect anonymous speech online.
If you look at 1994 to 1996 as a precedent, you see an interesting pattern.
There is no precedent here.
Idioms & Phrases
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