To precede is to go before, to be in front of, or to preface. Proceed, by far the more common of the two words, means to go forward, to continue, or to carry on. The words aren’t homophones, but their similarity in sound (and sometimes in meaning) makes them easy to confuse with each other in some contexts.
Thought precedes words, words precede deeds. [Guardian]
Depression is a robust predictor of stroke, even independently of memory impairments that might precede a stroke. [Psychiatric News]
A brief period of freezing drizzle may precede the snow in the state’s north, but Clay said it shouldn’t take long to change to snow. [Texarkana Gazette]
Mining companies can proceed with their challenge to U.S. EPA’s new policies on mountaintop-removal coal mining. [NY Times]
She’ll proceed to the Miss Alabama pageant in June, where she’ll compete for a spot in the Miss America pageant. [Studio Ten]