co·​de·​pen·​den·​cy | \ ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē How to pronounce codependency (audio) \

Definition of codependency

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

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Did You Know?

Dependency on addictive substances has been known for centuries, but the concept of codependency got its name only as recently as 1979. For many of us, codependency isn't easy to understand; we may keep asking "Why doesn't she just leave him?" and find it hard to accept the answers we get. Codependents usually don't share their partners' addiction, but their lives tend to be taken over with the burden of caring for and protecting the spouse or partner. In recent years, people have started claiming that all kinds of conditions—anorexia, overeating, gambling, fear of intimacy, etc.—can result in codependency. Many experts think all of this has gone too far; still, almost everyone agrees that spouses of alcoholics and drug addicts face unique difficulties and should look for support and advice anywhere they can find it.

Examples of codependency in a Sentence

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So is the crazy codependency and memory-lane madness that seemed to fuel their one-of-a-kind dynamic. Gary Goldstein,, "'That Summer' goes behind the scenes at Grey Gardens, to mixed effect," 24 May 2018 But be aware, Scorpio babe: In astrology, the seventh house directly reflects the first house of self, a reminder of the influence of projection and codependency on interpersonal dynamics. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What May's Scorpio Horoscope Means for You," 26 Apr. 2018 In Kiesel’s case, looking after her brother as a kid has led to a tenuous and chaotic relationship with him over the years, fraught with bouts of estrangement and codependency. Cindy Lamothe, The Atlantic, "When Kids Have to Act Like Parents, It Affects Them for Life," 26 Oct. 2017 However, two years ago, that relationship ended as a result of miscommunication, mutual recrimination, and unhealthy codependency. Mallory Ortberg, Slate Magazine, "My husband was married when we met—and I’m still ashamed.," 7 Sep. 2017 Season 3 of the dramedy finds divorced mom Valerie (Michaela Watkins) ready to move out of her brother Alex's (Tommy Dewey) house, and both of them fighting the urge to resort to codependency after participating in their father's euthanasia. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "Streaming in May: 'Kimmy Schmidt,' 'Master of None' return," 30 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'codependency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of codependency

1979, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of codependency was in 1979

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More Definitions for codependency


co·​de·​pen·​den·​cy | \ ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dən-sē How to pronounce codependency (audio) \
variants: or co-dependency also codependence or co-dependence \ -​dən(t)s How to pronounce co-dependence (audio) \
plural codependencies

Medical Definition of codependency

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person manifesting low self-esteem and a strong desire for approval has an unhealthy attachment to another person and places the needs of that person before his or her own

Note: In codependency, a person tries to satisfy the needs of another who is often controlling or manipulative and who may have an addictive or emotionally unstable personality.

broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

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