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I've been using the word "proceed" in a manner that I am now wondering if is correct. I use it to describe an event as having occurred after another in the following format:

"Event A proceeds Event B"

i.e. "A funeral proceeds the death of a person."

Is this a valid usage of the word?

My confusion stems from the fact that many dictionaries I use frequently have differing defnitions that aren't entirely equivalent. Here are some examples:

dictionary.com

  1. to move or go forward or onward, especially after stopping.
  2. to carry on or continue any action or process.
  3. to go on to do something.
  4. to continue one's discourse.

...the third of which may or may not satisfy my usage,

merriam-webster.com

  1. : to come forth from a source : ISSUE
    2a : to continue after a pause or interruption
    b : to go on in an orderly regulated way
    3a : to begin and carry on an action, process, or movement
    b : to be in the process of being accomplished
    4 : to move along a course : ADVANCE

...which doesn't have a definition that really satisfies my usage, and

lexico.com

1 Begin a course of action.
1.1 [with infinitive] Do something after something else.
1.2 (of an action) carry on or continue.
1.3 Law Start a lawsuit against someone.
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move forward.
2.1 British dated Advance to a higher rank, status, or education.
3 Originate from.

...where definition 1.1 shares the idea of my usage, but perhaps not the format.

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    @GEdgar Isn't that the exact question David is asking? – Rubiksmoose Aug 14 at 17:53
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    @GEdgar When I noticed that the three online dictionaries I typically use (dictionary.com, merriam-webster.com, and lexico.com) all have different definitions, I took the question here to pull on some expertise in the field. Some definitions deal directly with events after others (like the definition 1.1 in lexico), but it is not entirely clear to me as a lay person if my usage is entirely valid. – David Coffron Aug 14 at 17:57
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    @GEdgar That sounds like its own question. Perhaps the kind of think you could ask the users here. As I said, I am not an expert in the English language, and won't have an answer. I'm not sure if I'm inventing an opposite of precede, or using a word that is already eligible. If you think it is ineligible I invite you to leave an answer explaining why. – David Coffron Aug 14 at 18:10
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    There is no need to invent the opposite of precede because the opposite of precede has long been invented. And it's neither procede nor postcede. The word is succeed. – RegDwigнt Aug 14 at 18:32
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    @RegDwigнt That's a nonsequitur. The existence of one word with a meaning does not preclude the invention of another with the same meaning. This is especially true when some words carry many different meanings (like how succeed can also refer to achievement) making the general usage fluctuate. This can prompt the need for a new word to carry the meaning of the other word that has grown out of that meaning in general usage (not saying that is the case here, though). – David Coffron Aug 14 at 18:36
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The answer is that your use of proceed is non-standard. If you look at any dictionary, such as the online Cambridge English dictionary, you will notice that in none of the many examples is the verb used transitively (with a direct object. Proceed is a transitive verb. So you cannot "proceed a funeral". The verb is intransitive.

In the nearest examples to yours, you will find the verb can be used with a preposition. So it gives

his lawyers decided not to proceed with the case.

You could say that

a person's death precedes their funeral.

However, it seems too obvious to be worth saying. Similarly,

So when you look up a verb in the dictionary, check and see whether it is listed as 'transitive' (or 'trans') or 'intransitive' (or 'intrans'). The online dictionaries do not always whether they have transitive or intransitive uses. You may need a full paper dictionary for this information.

  • So the sentence "the funeral proceeds after the death of the person" is more in line with standard English? – David Coffron Aug 14 at 19:19
  • @DavidCoffron There are other reasons for a certain strangeness about it. It sounds almost as if it was planned and ready to go, and that the only thing needed was to wait for the death so that it could go ahead. But the strangeness is not a grammatical one. – Tuffy Aug 14 at 22:16
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"A funeral proceeds the death of a person." - that just sounds weird. I've never heard "proceed" used that way.

It can be used to mean "do something after something else", but not like that. Examples:

  • I ate the main course, then proceeded to eat the dessert.
  • The doctor came in, stinking of gin, and proceeded to lie on the table. [Beatles, "Rocky Raccoon"]
  • Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. ["Monty Python and the Holy Grail"]

Also, not to be confused with "precede", which sounds similar but means basically the opposite.

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