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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The move appeared aimed at reducing the Palestinians’ economic dependence on Israel. Aron Heller,, "Palestinian killed in clashes as tensions rise over US plan," 5 Feb. 2020 One example: the very widespread dependence on GPS, which is easy to jam, for critical positioning, navigation, and precision timing. Eric Spitznagel, Popular Mechanics, "‘Here We Go. The Chaos Is Starting’: An Oral History of Y2K," 27 Dec. 2019 In a nation coming to recognize the effects of climate change - and to question the dependence on fossil fuels that drive global warming - the village is caught between a comfortable present and a frightening future. Anchorage Daily News, "As Alaska warms, one village’s fight over oil development and the future," 14 Dec. 2019 Community engagement and empowerment so neighborhoods can flourish without the dependence of government. Pioneer Press Elections Team, Twin Cities, "ST. PAUL CITY COUNCIL WARD 2," 14 Oct. 2019 Blizzard’s decision highlights the dependence of multinational businesses, including sports businesses, on China, said Clayton Dube, the director of the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute. Los Angeles Times, "This gamer’s punishment over Hong Kong protest shows China’s sway over U.S. companies," 9 Oct. 2019 The dependence on subsidies is also playing out in balance-sheet inefficiencies. Washington Post, "China’s Borrowers Have an $890 Billion Problem," 20 Sep. 2019 Americans are perpetually ambivalent if not resentful about the dependence of other nations on their power and eager to wean them from it. Vance Serchuk, National Review, "Russia’s Middle East Power Play," 12 Sep. 2019 The biggest is the dependence of Mexico’s economy on a trade agreement with the United States. The Economist, "AMLO’s populism is both rampant and constrained," 4 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.

See More

First Known Use of dependence

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dependence

Time Traveler for dependence

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dependence

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dependence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!