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 One of the forces that can keep the rivalry from getting out of control is mutual economic dependence. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "Biden’s Get-Tough Plans Face Sobering China Reality," 28 Dec. 2020 There is still plenty of uncertainty, however, on the U.K.'s future, and the deal is not expected to lay out in detail how financial services will be managed: a major concern, given the British economy's dependence on the banking sector in London. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "The U.K. has finally reached a Christmas Eve trade deal with the EU," 24 Dec. 2020 The Philippines ranked worst overall in the study largely because of its labour market, with high unemployment and skills shortages, and the economy’s dependence on tourism. The Economist, "Daily chart Which economies are most vulnerable to covid-19’s long-term effects?," 15 Dec. 2020 The hospital’s dependence on the extra nursing home funds has caught the eye of at least two credit rating agencies. IndyStar, "Indiana public hospital CEOs can keep their multi-million dollar compensation a secret," 13 Dec. 2020 Turkey’s economic dependence on Europe presents Erdogan with a long-term dilemma, however, as economic sanctions could foster domestic political pressure on his government. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Erdogan's reckoning: Turkey faces wave of sanctions from US and Europe," 12 Dec. 2020 The country’s entire history since settlement has been shaped by unquestioned dependence on an alliance with a distant and dominant power, first England, then the United States. New York Times, "The World in a Vise: Sounding the Alarm on China, Then Running for Shelter," 1 Dec. 2020 And local food movements are providing hope of reducing dependence on highly polluting and often exploitative global supply chains. The Editors, Scientific American, "Repairing Earth once the Pandemic Is Over," 20 Oct. 2020 Eliminating China's dependence on foreign suppliers for key technologies like semiconductors is a central focus of China's 14th Five-Year Plan drafted in Beijing last month. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "China wants to make its own chips. 2 failures in 1 week show how hard that will be," 19 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for dependence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dependence

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dependence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for dependence


How to pronounce dependence (audio)

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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