One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
with object To place before in position; to set before in preference.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Blount (1618–1679), antiquary and lexicographer. From classical Latin antepōnere to place in front (of), to put (a word, prefix, or letter) before, to place before in time, to esteem more highly, to prefer, to give (a person) precedence, to choose, appoint from ante- + pōnere to put, place.
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