Per another post, this question was arose.
Yes, the words seem to be synonymous, but some uses seem to call for one over the other. Or so it appears.
1. Preceding in time or order: "[They] insist that foreign vessels seeking access obtain prior approval" Seymour M. Hersh.
2. Preceding in importance or value: a prior consideration.
1. Existing or occurring before something else in time or order; prior: children by a previous marriage.
2. Informal Acting, occurring, or done too soon; premature.
Look at these examples and tell me which "seems" more logical.
"Previous to me, someone did this and that." [paraphrasing]
"Prior to me, someone did this and that." [paraphrasing]
Maybe it is because the sentence starts with the word previous that bothers me.
I have often heard, on television, the following statement:
"Previously on [insert program and history here]."
I wonder if the sentence structure is in question, now that I look at it further.
Should it read:
"Previous to me working here, someone did this and that." [paraphrasing]
Qualifying it seems to make it more palatable.
"One forgets words as one forgets names. One's vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die."
- Evelyn Waugh