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English definition of “antecedent”

antecedent

noun [C]     /ˌæn.tiˈsiː.dənt/ US  /-t̬ə-/
formal someone or something existing or happening before, especially as the cause or origin of something existing or happening later: Charles Babbage's mechanical calculating engines were the antecedents of the modern computer. Many people feel a great curiosity to find out about their antecedents.Preceding and introducing specialized language a word or phrase that a pronoun refers back to: In the sentence 'He picked a book off the shelf and handed it to Sally', 'book' is the antecedent of 'it'.Grammatical terms
(Definition of antecedent noun from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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