1. Something done or said that may serve as an example to authorize a subsequent act of the same kind; an authoritative example.

Examples for cases can but direct as precedents only.

2. A preceding circumstance or condition; an antecedent; hence, a prognostic; a token; a sign. [Obs.]

3. A rough draught of a writing which precedes a finished copy. [Obs.] Shak.

4. (Law) A judicial decision which serves as a rule for future determinations in similar or analogous cases; an authority to be followed in courts of justice; forms of proceeding to be followed in similar cases. Wharton.

Syn. — Example; antecedent. — Precedent, Example. An example in a similar case which may serve as a rule or guide, but has no authority out of itself. A precedent is something which comes down to us from the past with the sanction of usage and of common consent. We quote examples in literature, and precedents in law.

(Prec"e*dent*ed), a. Having a precedent; authorized or sanctioned by an example of a like kind. Walpole.

(Prec`e*den"tial) a. Of the nature of a precedent; having force as an example for imitation; as, precedential transactions.

All their actions in that time are not precedential to warrant posterity.

(Pre*ced"ent*ly) adv. Beforehand; antecedently.

(Pre*ced"ing), a.

1. Going before; — opposed to following.

2. (Astron.) In the direction toward which stars appear to move. See Following, 2.

(Pre*cel") v. t. & i. [See Precellence.] To surpass; to excel; to exceed. [Obs.] Howell.

(Pre*cel"lence Pre*cel"len*cy) n. [L. praecellentia, from praecellens, p. pr. of praecellere to excel, surpass: cf. OF. precellence.] Excellence; superiority. [Obs.] Sheldon.

(Pre*cel"lent) a. [L. praecellens, p. pr.] Excellent; surpassing. [Obs.] Holland.

(Pre*cen"tor) n. [L. praecentor, fr. praecinere to sing before; prae before + canere to sing. See Chant.] A leader of a choir; a directing singer. Specifically: (a) The leader of the choir in a cathedral; — called also the chanter or master of the choir. Hook. (b) The leader of the congregational singing in Scottish and other churches.

(Pre*cen"tor*ship), n. The office of a precentor.

(Pre"cept) n. [L. praeceptum, from praecipere to take beforehand, to instruct, teach; prae before + capere to take: cf. F. précepte. See Pre-, and Capacious.]

1. Any commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; esp., a command respecting moral conduct; an injunction; a rule.

For precept must be upon precept.
Isa. xxviii. 10.

No arts are without their precepts.

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