dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \

Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : hanging down dependent lamps
2a : determined or conditioned by another : contingent plans that are dependent on the weather
b(1) : relying on another for support dependent children Their youngest daughter is still dependent on them.
(2) : affected with a drug dependence (see dependence sense 4) alcohol dependent
c : subject to another's jurisdiction a dependent territory
d grammar : subordinate sense 3a dependent clauses

3 mathematics

a : not mathematically or statistically independent (see independent entry 1 sense 1e) a dependent set of vectors dependent events
b : equivalent sense 6a dependent equations

dependent

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

Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 archaic : dependency
2 : one that is dependent especially : a person who relies on another for support an individual's spouse and dependent

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Other Words from dependent

Adjective

dependently adverb

Synonyms for dependent

Synonyms: Adjective

dangling, hanging, pendent (or pendant), pendulous, suspended

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Is it ever correct to use dependant instead of dependent?

The simple answer to the question of when dependant should be preferred to dependent is—for the American writer, anyway—maybe never. But that's only the simple answer.

In British English, dependant tends to be used for the noun, as in "a person's spouse and dependants," while dependent is the usual choice for the adjective, as in "a person's spouse and dependent children." In American English, dependent typically does both jobs.

This wasn't always the case: dependant is the older of the pair. The word is derived from French dépendant, which was borrowed into English during the Middle Ages with two different meanings: a literal one, "hanging down" (dépendant is the present participle of the French verb dépendre, meaning "to hang down”) and an extended one, “determined or conditioned by another.”

For two centuries, the English adjective was frequently spelled with final -ant or -aunt. But in the 16th century, the spelling of the word began to shift toward the -ent ending, influenced by the Latin form of the word, dēpendēnt. It is this Latinized spelling of the adjective that is predominately found in American and British English today.

The French-derived dependant, however, still has life across the pond—as a noun. The noun form is newer; it dates to the early 16th century, around the time that the spelling of the word was shifting. Why the -ant spelling for the noun had more staying power in British English is unknown. As the Oxford English Dictionary notes, it was possibly influenced by other nouns, such as defendant and assistant.

In summary, dependant can be used for the noun in either British or American English, but dependent for either noun or adjective is a safe choice in American English.

Examples of dependent in a Sentence

Adjective

He has been alcohol dependent for several years. the dependent willow branches swayed in the gentle breeze

Noun

The insurance provides coverage for workers and their dependents. a person's spouse and dependents Do you have any dependents?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The way Bjorn Borg grew up was very dependent on a sports club and community that was part of the welfare system in Sweden in the '60s and the '70s. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Everyone Was Dancing on Their Own at Robyn and Opening Ceremony’s Activewear Launch Party," 8 Mar. 2019 Special prosecutors occupy a far weaker position and are heavily dependent on the patience and support of the public. Andrew Coan, WSJ, "Why Robert Mueller’s Predecessors Usually Didn’t Prevail," 25 Jan. 2019 Submarines are so secure that the United Kingdom’s entire nuclear arsenal has shifted to nuclear submarines, and France is heavily dependent on her Triomphant-class nuclear submarines to provide the country’s nuclear deterrent. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad?," 23 Jan. 2019 The gift is dependent on your reward level and often features free sets of miniature makeup and beauty products. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Sephora Announced Changes to Its Beauty Insider Program," 9 Aug. 2018 For a company so dependent on innovation, competing in winner-take-all markets, those agglomeration effects have so far driven Amazon and its competitors to concentrate their workforces. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "Why Amazon’s New York U-Turn Is Good for America’s Tech Economy," 16 Feb. 2019 King County Metro is highly dependent on those two-chamber buses and has operated them with tire chains. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "Metro buses still on reduced snow schedules while slush brings new driving risks," 12 Feb. 2019 The couple was also charged with abuse of a dependent adult and child endangerment, Palm Springs' KMIR-TV reported. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "'Severely autistic' woman weighed 45 pounds, body found locked in feces-filled room, prosecutor says," 28 Sep. 2018 Analysts at Cox Automotive predicted that Florence won't destroy as many cars as Hurricane Harvey did in the car-dependent Houston area. Paul Wiseman, Fox News, "Closed ports, lost power: How storm could hurt area economy," 13 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As part of the House farm bill, which passed in July, Americans 50 to 59 years old would have also have to work, and so would all parents with dependents between 6 and 17 years old (unless the parents are elderly). Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk," 15 Oct. 2018 Same Day Delivery - With many New Yorkers dependent on taxis, the subway or ride-hailing services like Uber to get around, Nordstrom shoppers can get their purchases dropped off at their home or office for a $20 fee. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "Nordstrom's first NYC store offers cocktails, round the clock pick up and even a shave," 9 Apr. 2018 The place will become, once again, a quiet spot where very few children live — its population a disproportionately elderly one, dependent on an imperiled social-security system. Brook Larmer, New York Times, "South Korea’s Most Dangerous Enemy: Demographics," 20 Feb. 2018 Thirty-six states and territories currently have waivers for some adults without dependents. Julia Belluz, Vox, "A new Trump rule could take food stamps away from 755,000 people," 20 Dec. 2018 It can be used by people with less than $100,000 in taxable income and no dependents, and who meet other criteria. Calvin Woodward And Hope Yen, chicagotribune.com, "Fact Check: Trump is having it both ways on border policy," 7 Apr. 2018 However, Administrator Pruitt has done a good job of implementing the president’s policies, particularly on deregulation; making the United States less energy-dependent and becoming more energy independent. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Trump appointee at EPA to scrutinize which pollution cases may go to court," 15 June 2018 However, Administrator Pruitt has done a good job of implementing the president's policies, particularly on deregulation, making the United States less energy-dependent and becoming more energy-independent. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "Scott Pruitt: Tick, tick, tick...," 23 Apr. 2018 As the dependent of a veteran, the Department of Defense soon issued her a benefits card. Rick Montgomery, kansascity, "If Kansas vet's adopted daughter is deported, family will go with her to South Korea | The Kansas City Star," 30 Mar. 2018

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Noun

1523, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dependent

Adjective and Noun

Middle English dependant, from Anglo-French, present participle of dependre — see depend

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Statistics for dependent

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dependent

The first known use of dependent was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for dependent

dependent

noun

Financial Definition of dependent

What It Is

A dependent relies on someone else for most or all of his or her financial support.

How It Works

In general, dependents are exemptions that reduce a taxpayer's taxable income. Taxpayers typically can take an exemption for each of his or her dependents. Spouses are not considered dependents from a tax perspective.

To claim someone as a dependent, the dependent must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. resident alien, a U.S. national resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. Adopted children have some special exceptions to this rule. The filer must provide Social Security numbers for all dependents.

People who are dependents on another person's tax return may still have to file their own tax returns. This depends on how much they earn, how old they are and other factors. Dependents cannot claim any personal exemptions on their tax returns.

Why It Matters

The presence and number of dependents affect a taxpayer's tax liabilities and eligibility for public assistance programs such as welfare and food stamps. As mentioned, dependents increase the number of exemptions a taxypayer receives.

Source: Investing Answers

dependent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: decided or controlled by something else
: needing someone or something else for support, help, etc.
: addicted to alcohol or a drug

dependent

noun

English Language Learners Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person (such as a child) whose food, clothing, etc., you are responsible for providing

dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \

Kids Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : determined by something or someone else Our plans are dependent on the weather.
2 : relying on someone else for support
3 : requiring or addicted to a drug or alcohol

dependent

noun

Kids Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who depends upon another for support

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dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \

Medical Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : unable to exist, sustain oneself, or act appropriately or normally without the assistance or direction of another
2 : affected with a drug dependence
3a : occurring under the influence of gravity dependent drainage
b : affecting the lower part of the body and especially the legs dependent edema

Other Words from dependent

dependently adverb

dependent

noun
variants: also dependant

Medical Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is dependent (as on drugs or a person)

dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent

Legal Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : determined or conditioned by another : contingent
2a : relying on another for especially financial support
b : lacking the necessary means of support or protection and in need of aid from others (as a public agency) have the child declared dependent and taken away from his or her parents— L. H. Tribe
3 : subject to another's jurisdiction the United States and its dependent territories

dependent

noun

Legal Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is dependent especially : a close relative or member of a taxpayer's household who receives over half of his or her support from the taxpayer and is a U.S. citizen, national, or resident, or a resident of a bordering country (as Mexico) — see also dependency exemption at exemption

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Comments on dependent

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