In these words <cede> and <ceed> are different spellings of the same base, which comes from
Latin verb cedere "go, withdraw, proceed."
This base has produced several Modern English words, in most of which the bases spelling
parallels the spelling in Latin: accede, antecede, cede, concede, intercede, precede, recede,
The <ceed> alteration of earlier <cede> didn't gain dominance in England until the 16th century
and appears in only three verbs: succeed, proceed, and exceed . There is no way I know of to
show logically why these three are spelled with <ceed>, but there are mnemonic devices that can
help. One is based on the word speed. The <s> stands for succeed, the <p> for proceed, the first
<e> for exceed, and the final <eed> reminds you of the <ceed> spelling:
Another useful mnemonic is a sentence like, "If you proceed but do not exceed, you will succeed."
There is one common word and three not so common ones that complicate this tidy division:
Procedure is spelled as if its stem word were <procede> rather than proceed. The same is true of
procedendo, succedent, and succedaneum. These three, all of which came into English directly
from Latin, are consistent with Partridge's suggestion that the <ceed> spelling is due to French