dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \di-ˈpen-dənt \

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
\-dənt \
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 & Antonyms for dependent

Synonyms: Adjective

conditional, contingent (on or upon), subject (to), tentative

Antonyms: Adjective

independent, unconditional

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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 old, enfeebled institutions of the public sphere have grown dependent on the big technology companies for financial survival. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018 Davis is hoping the same is true for newborns who are born dependent on opioids because they were exposed in utero. Alice Park, Time, "Many Doctors Give Morphine to Babies Born With Opioid Addiction. A New Study Suggests There's a Better Way," 18 June 2018 The aggregate loan limit for students for Federal Direct Stafford Loans is $31,000 for dependent students. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Students aren't the only ones crushed by school debt," 11 July 2018 Decades of ever-freer trade and cross-border mergers have led to the domination of many industries by a handful of multinationals dependent on easy flows of raw materials, parts and labor. Matthew Campbell, latimes.com, "In Trump's trade war, companies like GM wind up on both sides," 29 June 2018 Those records were obtained through search warrants that detail the extent to which the former lobbyist and Trump campaign chairman found himself in debt and dependent on money from pro-Russia interests. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Manafort fights use of financial records at trial," 29 June 2018 David and Louise Turpin each face 12 counts of torture as well as seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, nine counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment. Greg Hanlon, PEOPLE.com, "House of Horrors Siblings Had Stunted Growth, 'Low Cognition,' 'Severe Skeletal Abnormalities'," 21 June 2018 The researchers believe that p. destructans has been diverging from its relatives for 20 million years, and is now entirely dependent on dark cave environments to live. Rachel Kaufman, Smithsonian, "Three Ways Bats Could Bounce Back From Devastating White Nose Syndrome," 18 June 2018 With rising numbers of overdoses and babies born drug-dependent, along with an overloaded foster care system, the Bluegrass State sorely needs programs for pregnant women struggling with addiction. Allison Ross, The Courier-Journal, "As drug epidemic sweeps Louisville, pregnant moms get help they need," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Families with older dependents, including children 17 or older. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "You might need to have more money withheld from your paycheck," 31 May 2018 So that includes active duty … Department of Navy civilian personnel, and the dependents. CBS News, ""48 Hours: NCIS:" Can agents stop a ruthless attacker preying on Marine wives?," 22 May 2018 And even when a hardship is granted, the state can defer recovery until the dependents who are exempt have passed away. Laura Berrios, ajc, "New estate recovery law helps families of older Georgians," 19 May 2018 The child welfare worker assigned to the case believed the allegation and filed a petition to have the children declared dependents of the juvenile court. Maura Dolan, latimes.com, "California Supreme Court clarifies use of testimony by young children," 27 Apr. 2018 Personal-use dipnetters can keep 25 salmon for the head of household and 10 salmon for each dependent of the permit holder, according to state fishing regulations. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Chitina dipnet fishing to open Thursday amid rising sockeye numbers," 10 July 2018 Major changes to rental-assistance formulas outlined in Carson's proposal include: Eliminating all existing deductions for dependents, childcare expenses, medical or disability-related expenses, and elderly or disabled status. Maria Polletta, azcentral, "89,000 Arizonans could see a major rent increase under HUD proposal," 20 June 2018 Check your health plan for dental benefits, especially for dependents younger than 19; the Affordable Care Act mandates pediatric dental coverage on individual and small-group medical plans. Kevin Brasler, Philly.com, "Finding a dentist to maintain your pearly whites," 2 June 2018 Nike: Active, veteran, retired and reservists, spouses and dependents of active personnel get a 10 percent military discount at Nike.com and Nike, Converse and Hurley stores. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Oorah! Where active military, vets can save on Independence Day," 1 July 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

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

Noun

see dependent entry 1

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Statistics for dependent

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

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 \

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 \

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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