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English definition of “precedent”

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precedent

noun uk   /ˈpres.ɪ.dənt/ us    /-ə.dent/
C2 [C] an action, situation, or decision that has already happened and can be used as a reason why a similar action or decision should be performed or taken: There are several precedents for promoting people who don't have formal qualifications. Some politicians fear that agreeing to the concession would set a dangerous precedent. [U] the way that something has been done in the past that therefore shows that it is the correct way: Would it be breaking with precedent for the bride to make a speech? [C] specialized law a decision about a particular law case that makes it likely that other similar cases will be decided in the same way: The judgment on pension rights has established/set a precedent.
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(Definition of precedent from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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