1A person who precedes another as holder of a position, office, title, etc.
2An ancestor, a forebear; (more generally) a member of a preceding generation.
3historical A predecessor in the possession of property; a person from or through whom property is inherited.
4A precursor or antecedent; a thing which has been followed or replaced by another.
5A teacher of law at a school or university. Now historical (especially Ancient History).
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Trevisa (c1342–?1402), translator. From (i) Anglo-Norman antecessour, Anglo-Norman and Middle French antecesseur predecessor, ancestor.