Did you know?

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

precedent - 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.



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 precedent pronunciation in British English /ˈpresɪdənt/
Word Forms
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [countable/uncountable] an action or event in the past that is used as an example or reason for a present action or event
    precedent for: There are good precedents for this sort of cooperation between organizations.
    set/establish/create a precedent: Arab states condemned the plan, regarding it as setting a dangerous precedent.
    without precedent: This is disturbing news and totally without precedent.
  2. 2
    [countable] legal a decision by a court on which future decisions are based
    It would not be right for this case to be treated as a precedent.
    1. a.
      [uncountable] the practice of basing legal decisions on decisions in previous cases
      The English legal system is a composite of legislation and judicial precedent.



a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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