[pred-uh-ses-er, pred-uh-ses-er or, esp. British, pree-duh-ses-er]
a person who precedes another in an office, position, etc.
something succeeded or replaced by something else: The new monument in the park is more beautiful than its predecessor.
Archaic. an ancestor; forefather.

1250–1300; Middle English predecessour < Anglo-French < Late Latin praedēcessor, equivalent to Latin prae- pre- + dēcessor retiring official, itself equivalent to dēced-, variant stem of dēcēdere to withdraw (dē- de- + cēdere to yield; see cede) + -tor -tor, with dt > ss Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
predecessor (ˈpriːdɪˌsɛsə)
1.  a person who precedes another, as in an office
2.  something that precedes something else
3.  an ancestor; forefather
[C14: via Old French from Late Latin praedēcessor, from prae before + dēcēdere to go away, from away + cēdere to go]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "one who has held an office or position before the present holder," from L.L. prædecessorem (nom. prædecessor), c.420, from L. præ "before" + decessor "retiring official," from decess-, pp. stem of decedere "go away," also "die" (see decease).
Meaning "ancestor, forefather" is recorded from c.1400.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The committee thus risks foundering on the same rock as its predecessors.
And new students come along who lack the prejudices of their predecessors.
Contemporary laptops are generally cooler than their predecessors.
But all reefs are formed by millions of tiny coral polyps-and the countless
  shells of their deceased predecessors.
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