codependency

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Recent Examples on the Web Are my self-destructive patterns and unexamined cycles of codependency the popular Jim Carrey character The Mask? Judy Berman, Time, "How BoJack Horseman's Brilliant Series Finale Subverts the Typical Hollywood Ending," 30 Jan. 2020 Ledger plays Dan, capturing the codependency and delusion of the character with devastating effect. Francisco Guzman And Saeed Ahmed, CNN, "Heath Ledger played more than the Joker. Whatever kind of movie you're into, Ledger has a film for you," 22 Jan. 2020 Together, the pair form a portrait of codependency in the extreme; their daughters are hardly more than disappointed, disappointing interlopers in this closed union. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "The Unstable, Flickering “The Height of the Storm”," 30 Sep. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Overwhelmed parent wants to mend broken family," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Ask Amy: Overwhelmed parent wants to mend broken family," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, "Ask Amy: We’re trying to sell our house. Can we tell our neighbors to clean up?," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Overwhelmed parent wants to mend broken family," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Ask Amy, oregonlive.com, "Ask Amy: Family exhausted trying to deal with adult daughters’ accusations and substance abuse," 5 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of codependency

1979, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about codependency

Time Traveler for codependency

Time Traveler

The first known use of codependency was in 1979

See more words from the same year

Statistics for codependency

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Codependency.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/codependency. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for codependency

codependency

noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on codependency

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about codependency

Comments on codependency

What made you want to look up codependency? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!