I'm looking for a word to replace recent when the reference point is not the present.

For example, I want to describe the time/events of the period shortly before the rule of Alfred the Great (what Alfred himself would refer to as "recent history"). A writer at the time could write something like "King Alfred continued a trend set by recent kings and events to establish himself as the dominant ruler in England". If I were to write that today, I would be technically incorrect (although probably understood in this example). What can I replace recent with to make this correct?

The sample sentence I'm looking to put the desired word into is thus

King Alfred continued a trend set by ______ kings and events to establish himself as the dominant ruler in England.

Note that the length of the time periods we're talking about (how short, exactly, is "shortly before") is vague and depends on context, which is absolutely fine, and is not the point of my question.

To clarify further, here's an analogy: the word contemporary can be used to mean "of the present time" (technically, "of the same time", with the present being the explicit or implicit reference point), but it can also be used with different reference points (e.g., "Salieri was contemporary with Mozart"). On the other hand, modern always refers to the present time (this is why I find words like modernism and postmodernism to be nonsense, but I digress).

To phrase the analogy as an SAT question, I'm looking for a word that is to recent what contemporary is to modern.

Earlier comes to mind as a possibility which works with any reference point, but earlier is more generic: it can include periods much further in the past, disconnected from the reference point, while recent describes a period (of indefinite length) leading up to the present.


I realised the original example sounds a bit awkward, so I thought having another, simpler sentence might help:

In 1940, my grandmother was meant to travel to Australia with her parents, but she didn't because she had ______ given birth.

  • In other words, you want a word that means "slightly earlier"? Jun 26, 2018 at 4:55
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    What are you asking? Strangely, you already gave "contemporary," one sense of which is being "recent in a relative time frame." Only one sense of "contemporary" means "modern." Ironically, this means that "contemporary [2] is to recent as contemporary [3] is to modern. Jun 26, 2018 at 4:57
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    @Ratler What? No, I mean that contemporary has multiple senses. One of its senses is "around the same time period." In other words, "Plato was a contemporary of Socrates." That sense doesn't mean modern at all. Or to rephrase the sentence in the question, "King Alfred continued a trend set by kings and events contemporary to him to establish himself as the dominant ruler in England." Although, perhaps what you're looking for is something that means "slightly before relatively contemporary." Jun 26, 2018 at 5:56
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    Please submit answers as answers rather than in comments. It's difficult to engage with them in an already unwieldy comment thread.
    – Ratler
    Jun 26, 2018 at 15:58
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    'In 1940, my grandmother was meant to travel to Australia with her parents, but she didn't because she had recently given birth. works fine. 'Recent' is deictic, 'shortly before the referenced time'. // Admittedly, 'King Alfred continued a trend set by recent kings and events to establish himself as the dominant ruler in England.' is not quite as natural sounding, but is still totally acceptable on grounds of grammaticality, semantics and clarity. Sep 16, 2019 at 13:28

3 Answers 3


'precedented kings'
'former' kings 'previous' kings in my opinion it doesn't really matter that it should be quite close to the timeframe of Alfred, as if you indicate that it was the kings before him it includes that timeframe as well.

  • Precedented doesn't seem appropriate from the dictionary definition ("example set for future use"). Former and previous could work, but as with earlier, they don't convey that the timeframe is necessarily connected to the point of reference (i.e., it could've been a long time ago).
    – Ratler
    Jun 27, 2018 at 13:08
  • aren't the previous kings examples set for future use in that context? Yes, I realize that. That is why I said in my opinion it doesn't really matter whether it's a long time ago. (does it really? It surely includes the recent past kings as well as the long ago kings as well...)
    – esu
    Jun 29, 2018 at 14:11

latter-day TFD

Belonging to present or recent times

As in:

King Alfred continued a trend set by latter day kings and events to establish himself as the dominant ruler in England.

2 other dictionaries:

modern or contemporary, especially mirroring the past. Oxford

being a new or recent form of a person or thing from the past. Cambridge

  • From the link you posted, "latter-day" means "of a later or following period". I guess that can be taken to mean "modern or recent times" since on the timeline of history, the present comes later / at the end, but in the example, I'm afraid it could be understood as "the kings/events that came after Alfred".
    – Ratler
    Jun 27, 2018 at 13:02
  • @Ratler au contraire! By definition it in no way can mean a post date, or relate to the 'future'.
    – lbf
    Jun 27, 2018 at 13:12
  • One of the TFD examples is "of a later or following period: latter-day pioneers". I read that as "pioneers that came after the main or original pioneers" (i.e., in the future of the reference point). Do you mean that this should be read as "slightly earlier pioneers"?
    – Ratler
    Jun 27, 2018 at 13:28
  • @Ratler the ladder day pioneers came after the 1st pioneers but before the current pioneer.
    – lbf
    Jun 27, 2018 at 17:05
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    But which version is understood by people? If, let's say, somebody said "compare the fourth Holy Land crusade (1202) with latter-day crusades", would people understand it to mean pre-1202 or last crusades (late 1200s)? I would assume the second interpretation.
    – Ratler
    Jun 28, 2018 at 7:25

I would say: "King Alfred's leadership style was comparable to kings of that era."

Note: Rulership style is an actual concept. Khublai Khan is one of my ancestors. His rulership style was purely administrative. He let his people keep their customs. This is known as _______.

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    The question asks for a single word rather than a different way to say the whole sentence. For future reference, we are also looking for answers with correct punctuation – I've edited your post to fix the errors, but note that lack of care on a site catering to English language/usage enthusiasts is an invitation for downvotes! Lastly, what is the purpose of your second paragraph? Are you asking us to fill in the blank? Sep 16, 2019 at 14:14

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