co·​de·​pen·​dent ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce codependent (audio)
variants or less commonly co-dependent
psychology : participating in or exhibiting codependency
codependent behavior
a codependent relationship
The concept of "codependency" originally arose in describing the dynamics in relationships affected by addictions. The codependent individual was analogous to the "enabler" who takes responsibility for, minimizes the effects of, and overlooks the repercussions of the behavior of people who are in active addiction.Gina M. Sala
: mutually dependent
Dancing and hip hop are codependent: We can't have one without the other.Todd James
… the world's stock markets are interconnected and co-dependent. When one market quakes, others can tremble.Gregg Ip
codependent noun
or less commonly co-dependent
plural codependents also co-dependents
Sufferers become excessively dependent on other people's needs, particularly when those others are involved in a self-destructive addiction. In their desperation to save these people—to control their thoughts, actions and feelings—codependents may become as hooked on the addicts as the addicts are hooked on drugs and alcohol. J. D. Reed

Examples of codependent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Berto Fernández is excellent as Diana’s well-meaning but codependent husband, Dan. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 May 2024 To be codependent, according to some TikTok talking heads, advice columnists, celebrities, and mental-health advocates, is to care too much, try to control others, and be terrible with boundaries. Elissa Strauss, The Atlantic, 25 Feb. 2024 Ultimately, the vampire couple is, then, the most disastrous and dysfunctional example of the codependent relationship. Nicholas Bell, SPIN, 14 Feb. 2024 Because of the cultural shift that happened between the time Sondheim wrote the musical and now, both Charly and Mary’s disappointment in Frank can seem petty and codependent. Trish Deitch, Variety, 10 Oct. 2023 One, rather utopian, is to persuade the clubs to work more collectively, to understand that growth is a shared endeavor and that their success is codependent. Rory Smith, New York Times, 24 Nov. 2023 Richardson’s personality often gets compared to that of her breakout White Lotus season 2 character Portia, the quasi-nihilistic Gen Z assistant forced to vacation with her codependent boss Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge). Danielle Bacher, Peoplemag, 2 Nov. 2023 The relationship between writer and editor—alchemical, fraught, frequently codependent—is the fascinating subject of this warm-hearted documentary by Lizzie Gottlieb, the daughter of the late, legendary editor Robert Gottlieb. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 22 Sep. 2023 Parachute is set in New York City and follows a young woman with an eating disorder and addiction issues and her codependent partner. Angel Saunders, Peoplemag, 22 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'codependent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1828, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of codependent was in 1828

Dictionary Entries Near codependent

Cite this Entry

“Codependent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


co·​de·​pen·​dent ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce codependent (audio)
variants also co-dependent
: participating in or exhibiting codependency
a codependent relationship
The co-dependent spouse, for example, derives a purpose in life from the alcoholic's need to have someone run the household, help hide the addiction from public view and clean up disasters.Michael Vincent Miller, The New York Times Book Review
codependent noun
also co-dependent
What makes chemical dependency a uniquely devastating illness is that the affected person not only suffers physically, but is morally, emotionally, and spiritually sick as well. Family and friends often become codependents and suffer, too. Peter D. Rogers, The Journal of the American Medical Association
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