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 To ensure its access to the critical devices and mitigate any potential supply disruptions, the U.S. is accelerating plans to lessen its dependence on China by manufacturing more chips at home. Fortune, "With the Nikkei above 30,000, can Japan exorcise ghosts of its 1980s bubble?," 25 Feb. 2021 Stopping the project eliminates thousands of good-paying jobs, wipes out future taxes for local jurisdictions, increases our dependence on Middle Eastern oil supply, will increase gasoline prices and does nothing to combat climate change. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Biden's inaugural speech, hopes for a Biden presidency," 22 Jan. 2021 Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana use disorder, is associated with dependence on the use of weed. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Marijuana abuse by youth with mood disorders linked to suicide attempts, self-harm and death, study finds," 20 Jan. 2021 The next couple of offseasons are going to be huge, and the Bears need to draft well to get to a better place salary-cap-wise and to lessen their dependence on free agency. Brad Biggs,, "Chicago Bears Q&A: Is this team poised for a Cinderella run? Are the front office and coaches safe now, or will the Packers game swing decisions? Is Dwayne Haskins worth a look?," 30 Dec. 2020 Try The Social Dilemma, which explains the waking nightmare that is our dependence on social media in a way that feels impressively hopeless and absolutely fascinating. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "The 18 Best Documentaries of 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 One issue, right off the hop, is the uncertainty over whether the American Hockey League will be able to operate, given its dependence on attendance revenue. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Steve Yzerman is excited to watch the Detroit Red Wings play. Here's why," 24 Dec. 2020 Like the Charles de Gaulle and U.S. carriers, the new ship will be nuclear powered, decreasing its dependence on port visits for fuel. James Marson, WSJ, "With New Aircraft Carrier, France Looks to Bolster Military Ties With U.S.," 23 Dec. 2020 Stability is additionally expected to attract foreign investment in the country, helping the government end its dependence on donors like the United States and the European Union. Hanif Sufizada, The Conversation, "The Taliban are megarich – here’s where they get the money they use to wage war in Afghanistan," 8 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for dependence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dependence

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dependence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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

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