Preceding, antecedent, precedent, foregoing, previous, prior, former, anterior are comparable when they mean being before, especially in time or in order of arrangement.
Preceding, opposed to succeeding and following, is restricted to time and place; it usually means immediately before.
Antecedent, opposed to subsequent and consequent, usually implies order in time, but unlike preceding, it often suggests an indefinite intervening interval.
Very often, also, the word implies a causal or a logical, as well as a temporal, relation.
Precedent often applies to one thing which must precede another thing if the latter is to be valid or become effective; thus, a condition precedent in law is a condition that must be fulfilled before an estate can be vested in one or before a right accrues to one.
Foregoing, opposed to following, applies almost exclusively to statements.
Previous and prior , opposed to subsequent, are often used almost interchangeably.
But prior sometimes implies greater importance than previous; thus, a previous obligation suggests merely an obligation entered into earlier in point of time, whereas a prior obligation is one which surpasses the other in importance and must be fulfilled in advance of any other; a prior preferred stock is one whose claim to dividends or to a specified sum in liquidation comes before other preferred stocks of a company.
Former, opposed to latter, even more definitely than prior, implies comparison; thus, there can be a former engagement only when there is also a later one; a previous or prior engagement may prevent one’s making a second.
Anterior, opposed to posterior, also comparative in force, applies to position, usually in space, sometimes in order or time.