de·​pen·​dence | \ di-ˈpen-dən(t)s How to pronounce dependence (audio) \
variants: or less commonly dependance

Definition of dependence

1 : the quality or state of being dependent especially : the quality or state of being influenced or determined by or subject to another
3 : one that is relied on
4a : drug addiction developed a dependence on painkillers

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Examples of dependence in a Sentence

The company was hurt by its dependence on government loans. Our dependence upon foreign oil makes our economy vulnerable. a harmful dependence on foreign oil
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Recent Examples on the Web

The trade war with the U.S. has reinforced China’s determination to develop its own high-tech products, including semiconductors, to break free of dependence on the United States in those fields and emerge as a global leader. Robyn Dixon,, "You called us, China reminds Trump as trade talks resume," 19 June 2019 Now, Moran said, this kind of context dependence needs to find its way into other studies of perception and cognition. Quanta Magazine, "Brains Speed Up Perception by Guessing What’s Next," 2 May 2019 McLean aims to will reduce dependence on overseas suppliers. William Thornton |,, "MacLean Power Systems plans $5.3 million expansion in Alabaster," 3 June 2019 The country is less vulnerable to global headwinds such as the escalating U.S.-China trade tensions because of its dependence on domestic demand. Anant Vijay Kala, WSJ, "India’s Growth Slowed to 7.1% in Latest Quarter," 30 Nov. 2018 German carmakers have suffered the most from the backlash because of their dependence on the technology. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "Volkswagen Set to Oust Matthias Müller as C.E.O. After Diesel Scandal," 10 Apr. 2018 Because of that dependence, some viruses have stuck with their hosts throughout evolution, mutating to make minor adjustments every time the host branched into a new species — a process called co-divergence. Quanta Magazine, "Viruses Would Rather Jump to New Hosts Than Evolve With Them," 13 Sep. 2017 By 2016, three-quarters of people with opioid addictions had been prescribed a drug used to treat their dependence. Erika Edwards, NBC News, "U.S. death rates from suicides, alcohol and drug overdoses reach all-time high," 12 June 2019 The argument, reportedly, is that Huawei is currently dependent on Google for its Android smartphone software, and that dependence is a good thing for the US. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Report: Google argues the Huawei ban would hurt its Android monopoly," 7 June 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for dependence

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for dependence

The first known use of dependence was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for dependence



English Language Learners Definition of dependence

: the state of needing something or someone else for support, help, etc.
: the state of being addicted to alcohol or a drug


de·​pen·​dence | \ di-ˈpen-dəns How to pronounce dependence (audio) \

Kids Definition of dependence

1 : a condition of being influenced and caused by something else
2 : a state of having to rely on someone or something dependence on charity
4 : addiction to drugs or alcohol


de·​pen·​dence | \ di-ˈpen-dən(t)s How to pronounce dependence (audio) \

Medical Definition of dependence

1 : the quality or state of being dependent upon or unduly subject to the influence of another
2a : drug addiction

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Comments on dependence

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


something desired as essential

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