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

But that dependence does not deter the island’s politicians from pursuing their own bargains. The Economist, "Greenlanders say Donald Trump should have asked them first," 24 Aug. 2019 An oil exporter pushes to go green Super-fast electric charging stations in rural Norway is an image that's slightly at odds with the country's continued economic dependence on its oil and gas industry. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "In Tesla-Crazy Norway, the Electric Vehicle Revolution Is Already Here," 21 Aug. 2019 The dependence on cheap labor is built into these companies. Adrian Carrasquillo, The New Republic, "ICE’s Raids Were a Win for Corporate Exploitation," 12 Aug. 2019 The basic argument is that if two countries are mutually vulnerable to disruption of bilateral exchange, then this dependence has a deterring function. Daniel W. Drezner, Twin Cities, "Daniel Drezner: This trade war will get out of control," 7 Aug. 2019 However, the really important part of the frictional force is the dependence on the normal force. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "An Electric Pickup Truck Really Could Pull a Freight Train—Here's How," 30 July 2019 The conflicting points about both the limits of his position (the dependence on everyone else doing their jobs) and the importance of his one-handed catch feel a little muddled. Conor Orr,, "Odell Beckham Jr.'s GQ Interview: The Good and the Bad," 23 July 2019 Physical dependence means that a person will develop symptoms and signs of withdrawal if a drug or medication is suddenly stopped or the dose is lowered too quickly. Derek Mcginni, Harper's magazine, "Junk Science," 22 July 2019 Last year, the former inspired Netflix’s documentary Take Your Pills, which highlighted the extreme dependence on amphetamines that our national obsession with 24/7 productivity has created. Vogue, "How I Learned to Find Focus Without Caffeine or an Adderall Prescription," 15 July 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

27 Aug 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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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