dependent

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

Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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 grammar : subordinate sense 3a dependent clauses
d : subject to another's jurisdiction a dependent territory
2 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
3 : hanging down dependent lamps

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

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Other Words from dependent

Adjective

dependently adverb

Synonyms for dependent

Synonyms: Adjective

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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 Completely dependent on having someone at the top to give orders, the mighty military force cannot survive after decapitation. Angry Staff Officer, Wired, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Is a Lesson in Military Opposites," 24 Dec. 2019 The first a-ha moment Patel saw an industry that had been reliant on a model that was dependent on agents and brokers for more than a century that could benefit from a digital platform. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "ASU grad’s start-up Insurmi brings modern solution to problems in century-old insurance industry," 15 Dec. 2019 Through these tests, the team demonstrated that MDMA’s effects on sociability were dependent on serotonin in the nucleus accumbens, a key part of the brain’s reward circuity. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, "MDMA Could Be Tailored to Make It More Suitable for Treating Mental Illness," 11 Dec. 2019 Meanwhile, calves spend up to a year and a half suckling and are completely dependent on their mothers during this time. Kylie Mohr, National Geographic, "African buffalo," 9 Nov. 2019 Known as anisotropy, this means that properties of bones are dependent on their orientation. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Army Creates Super Detailed Skull X-Rays in Search for a Better Military Helmet," 8 Nov. 2019 Taylor, in particular, testified that Sondland said U.S. security assistance to Ukraine was dependent on Ukraine announcing investigations that Trump desired. John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, Anchorage Daily News, "Acting ambassador says it was his ‘clear understanding’ military aid would not be sent until Ukraine pursued investigations," 6 Nov. 2019 There is one stumbling block in Twiga’s path: its business is dependent on sourcing orders from informal retailers who often lack cash-flow to replenish their stock and also struggle to secure loans given the lack of a credit history. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "A Kenyan agritech startup is going pan-African with a $30 million round led by Goldman Sachs," 28 Oct. 2019 Those glands are responsible for producing oil, the amount of which can be dependent on hormone changes and environmental conditions. Emma Sarran Webster, Allure, "Why You Shouldn’t Use Body Moisturizer on Your Face, According to Experts," 27 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun His wife and child are on H-4 visas, which are issued to dependents of H-1B recipients, said the memo. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Undercover ICE recordings reveal tactics of fake Farmington University," 7 Jan. 2020 British prosecutors maintain that immunity does not apply to dependents of consular officials based outside of London. BostonGlobe.com, "UK charges US diplomat’s wife over teen’s death in crash - The Boston Globe," 21 Dec. 2019 But British prosecutors maintain that immunity does not apply to dependents of consular officials based outside of London. Jill Lawless, Anchorage Daily News, "UK charges American diplomat’s wife over teen’s death in crash," 20 Dec. 2019 The 100 Club, which has about 32,000 members, began in 1953 when like-minded individuals joined together to provide financial support for dependents of law enforcement who died in the line of duty, according to a news release. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Nearly $600K raised for slain deputy as donations for his family pour in," 30 Sep. 2019 Able-bodied adults without dependents are required to work at least 20 hours a week or be limited to three months of benefits in a three-year time period. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Mo Brooks praises food stamp cuts, wrong for ‘slackers’ to take money from ‘hard-working taxpayers’," 5 Dec. 2019 Nearly 60% of those living in the US as dependents of their spouses have professional or graduate degrees of their own; 49% have an individual income upwards of $75,000, a survey of over 2,400 people by advocacy group Save H4 EAD revealed. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Spouses of H-1B workers can’t let their guard down just yet," 12 Nov. 2019 The change will result in only three counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio in which able-bodied adults without dependents can receive aid without working. Randy Ludlow, Cincinnati.com, "45,000 Ohioans stand to lose food stamps unless they get jobs or go to school," 6 Dec. 2019 Roll the dice with another tight end who isn’t as touchdown dependent. Charles Curtis, For The Win, "Week 8 fantasy football studs, duds and sleepers: Sony Michel will have another big day," 23 Oct. 2019

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 1a

Noun

1523, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for dependent

Adjective and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for dependent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dependent

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dependent.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dependant. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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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
How to pronounce dependent (audio)

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
How to pronounce dependent (audio)

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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