Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

antecedent - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     antecedent pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] formal something that happened or existed before something else and is similar to it in some way
  2. 2


    [plural] formal the members of your family who lived a long time ago
  3. 3
    [countable] linguistics the antecedent of a word is the noun or phrase nearer the beginning of the sentence that it refers to. In the sentenceI threw the keys to him and he caught them’, ‘keys’ is the antecedent of ‘them’.

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play