precedence and precedents - the difference

The Quick Answer
Precedence pertains to ranking.
A precedent is a previous example used to guide a decision.

Precedence

The noun precedence pertains to ranking or status in order of importance or urgency.

Examples:
  • The medics treated them in order of precedence according to their
    injuries.
  • The rules that govern the precedence of members of the Royal Family are complex.

Precedent

The noun precedent means an example from the past that provides evidence for an argument. It is most commonly used in legal circles and, more specifically, can be described as a previously decided case that guides the decision of a future case.

Examples:
  • Having discovered a similar case in the past, the prosecution team used this precedent to support their argument.
  • There is precedent with last year's Smith versus Jones case.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are nouns? List of easily confused words