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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Call it the codependent presidential campaign of 2024. Chuck Todd, NBC News, 1 May 2023 Sometimes, narcissistic abuse is part of a codependent relationship. Claire Gillespie, Health, 1 May 2023 In a show that centers on a twisted relationship between brilliant, codependent twins, Rebecca Parker and Susan also play an intriguing duo. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Apr. 2023 Riffing on the David Cronenberg film of the same name, the show swaps in Rachel Weisz for Jeremy Irons as a pair of codependent gynecologists. Alison Herman, Variety, 21 Apr. 2023 Ruland’s evil empire is Health Net Secure, a mega consortium that has cornered the rehab business in L.A. by fostering a toxic and seemingly endless codependent relationship with the patients the company is supposed to be curing. Marc Weingarten, Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2023 To find the most loathsome prey in modern-day New Orleans, he's joined a support group for people in abusive, codependent relationships; the bad boyfriends described in these meetings swiftly end up on the menu. A.a. Dowd, Chron, 12 Apr. 2023 At the start of the novel, Jane is coming off a toxic codependent relationship with her cheating filmmaker boyfriend. Marc Weingarten, Los Angeles Times, 3 Apr. 2023 There’s also the fact that a malnourished and heavily pregnant Shauna has taken to eating bits of Jackie that have fallen off in the wintry cold, literalizing the intense, codependent, and sometimes borderline-homoerotic friendships that often form between young women. Abby Monteil, Rolling Stone, 31 Mar. 2023 See More

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 1 Jun. 2023.

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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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