co·​de·​pen·​dent | \ ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce codependent (audio) \
variants: or less commonly co-dependent

Definition of codependent

1 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
2 : 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

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Other Words from codependent

codependent or less commonly co-dependent noun, 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 Strangely codependent rivals, each is obsessed with his place in history; each is uneasily aware they will be tethered together in posterity; each is willing to sell out the other in a nanosecond., 24 Sep. 2019 In both situations, the men hold the power. Binge drinking and drug use are also widespread among the employees, and long hours working in close quarters lead to unhealthy, codependent relationships. Elisabeth Sherman, Glamour, 15 July 2019 Appalachia, which has been ground into codependent poverty by the coal industry over the course of a century, has been declining, in coal output and employment, for decades. David Roberts, Vox, 9 July 2019 Louise is able to mend the dress for her, which sparks the beginning of their dangerously codependent friendship. Hannah Orenstein, Vox, 12 Sep. 2018 But if attention is the junk, the media is the junkie's codependent junkie girlfriend. Jonah Goldberg, Alaska Dispatch News, 4 July 2017 In Mike Nichols’s triumphant adaptation of the vicious Edward Albee play, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor — known for their turbulent romance offscreen — star as Albee’s unforgettable, bitter and utterly codependent couple. Joshua Barone, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2017 New Yorkers, briefly, had seen themselves as members of a fragile, codependent collective, and that helplessness bred a rare willingness to help others and to be helped in turn. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 30 Jan. 2017 That is, until the trio takes a road trip that defines Andy’s true intentions, tests the siblings’ allegiance, and makes Krystal and Donny rethink their codependent lifestyle. Gary Goldstein,, 8 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'codependent.' 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 codependent

1828, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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The first known use of codependent was in 1828

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Last Updated

4 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Codependent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for codependent


co·​de·​pen·​dent | \ ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce codependent (audio) \
variants: also co-dependent

Medical Definition of codependent

: participating in or exhibiting codependency a codependant 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, 17 May 1992

Other Words from codependent

codependent also co-dependent noun
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, 3 May 1985


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