First, let's take a look at the definition of antecede. The word is a verb, and it means "to come before in time." Think about a scientific or historical timetable. Dinosaurs antecede humans. Sophocles antecedes Shakespeare. The Civil War antecedes Industrial America. Primitive tools antecede modern machinery. Your great-great grandmother antecedes you. You may hear a similar word, antecedent, used in discussions of grammar. Antecedent, which is a noun, can refer to a word or phrase that appears in a sentence and is replaced by a pronoun or another substitute term in a later reference. Here's an example: Billy misplaced his glasses, and he was afraid he couldn't see well enough to find them. "Billy" is the antecedent of "he," and "glasses" is the antecedent of "them."