verb de·pend \ di-ˈpend \
|Updated on: 11 Aug 2018

Definition of depend

1 : to be determined, based, or contingent (see 1contingent 1)
  • life depends on food
  • the value of Y depends on X
2 : to be pending or undecided
  • matters of greatest moment were depending
  • —John Milton
3 a : to place reliance or trust
  • you can depend on me
b : to be dependent especially for financial support
  • Her family depends on her paycheck.
  • still depends on his parents
4 : to hang down
  • a star was depending from his neck
  • —Arnold Bennett

Examples of depend in a Sentence

  1. whether or not we play baseball will depend on how much rain we get

  2. I know I can always depend on you for help when I really need it.

Recent Examples of depend from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of depend

Middle English, from Anglo-French dependre, modification of Latin dependēre, from de- + pendēre to hang — more at pendant

depend Synonyms


calculate, count, lean, reckon, rely;

Near Antonyms

distrust, mistrust, question, suspect;

Related Words

commit, confide, entrust (also intrust), trust;


bank on, call on (or upon), figure on, look to, stand on;

DEPEND Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of depend for English Language Learners

  • —used in speech in phrases like it depends and that depends to say that the answer to a question will be different in different situations

DEPEND Defined for Kids


verb de·pend \ di-ˈpend \

Definition of depend for Students

depended; depending
: to be subject to determination by the situation
  • Are you going to the party? I don't know. It depends.
depend on
1 : to rely for support
  • Children depend on their parents.
2 : to be determined by or based on a person, action, or condition
  • The people had been very proud … that victory or defeat depended on them.
  • —Theodore Taylor, The Cay
3 : 1trust 2, rely
  • You can depend on me to get the job done.

Word Root of depend

The Latin word pendere, meaning “to cause to hang down,” gives us the root pend. Words from the Latin pendere have something to do with hanging. To suspend is to cause something to hang down from a single point. To depend is to hang, or rely, on the support of others. A pendant is an ornament that hangs free, as on a necklace. A pendulum is an object hung from a point that swings freely back and forth, as in a clock.

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