antecedent - definition in the American English Dictionary - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

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antecedent

noun [C usually pl]  us   /ˌæn·təˈsi·dənt/
something existing or happening before, esp. as the cause of an event or situation: The book dealt with the historical antecedents of the Civil War. grammar An antecedent is also a word or phrase that a pronoun refers to: In the sentence, "Joe threw the ball to Wendy, and Wendy threw it back," "the ball" is the antecedent of "it." mathematics An antecedant is also the part of a conditional statement that follows the word "if."
(Definition of antecedent from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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