If the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are successive, what are the numbers 5, 4, 3, 2, 1?

The ____ items are ...

Predecessive doesn't seem to be a word, nor antecessive (such weird attempts).

What's a word that means: each item occurs directly before the next item.

Similarly this word would be the opposite of consecutive.

Same meaning, but in the opposite direction; backwards instead of forwards.

  • 1
    I'm not aware of an adjective, but the usual prepositional phrase is in reverse order. It can't be used prenominally. Nov 9, 2021 at 12:36
  • Call it countdown order if you don't like reverse. Nov 9, 2021 at 15:37
  • The etymological opposite could be 'recessive'. However, there is an ambiguity in the Latin preposition 're', which can mean 'back' in the sense of 'away from' or 'again'. So 'Re' can indicate 'backwards' or it can indicate 'again', as in a 'recessive' gene, compared with the 'backwards' of an economic 'recession', in which the employment and 'GDP statistics go down from higher to lower numbers, which is exactly what you are after. But if you want to be in the safe side, stick with Edwin Ashworth's "in reverse order".
    – Tuffy
    Nov 9, 2021 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


Successive means "coming one after the other". To describe items as successive is to describe where they are (namely in consecutive places one after the other), not what they actually are. The numbers 5, 1, 22, 44, 3 would be successive if they were drawn in that order in a lottery draw.

Your sequence 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is a decreasing sequence of consecutive numbers. (As far as I know, there is no single word which encapsulates the ideas of "consecutive numbers" and the sequence being decreaing.)

  • You're absolutely correct in your definition of successive and that's exactly the meaning I want to invert. If 5, 1, 22, 44, 3 were the successive numbers, what would 3, 44, 22, 1, 5 be?
    – minseong
    Nov 9, 2021 at 18:30
  • Successive numbers can be increasing or decreasing numbers.
    – Lambie
    Dec 9, 2021 at 15:52
  • I think the point is not that the numbers increase or decrease, but the ordinal relationship is read forward or backward. If I referred to Sears, Kmart, Walmart and Amazon as a successive list of largest retailers in the US, what do I refer to Amazon, Walmart, Kmart and Sears as? A ____ list?
    – jimm101
    Apr 3, 2023 at 16:30

In the sequence "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" the numbers are said to be consecutive (ref.). However, they are also successive ("consecutive" implies "successive") (ref.).

There is no single word term for the reverse arrangement. A compound can be used, such as "inversely consecutive", but I do not think this is a defined mathematical term. In mathematics one would rather speak only tentatively of a "reverse integer sequence" ("reverse consecutive integer sequence") (ref.).

The term "decreasing sequence of consecutive integers" is standard, however.

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